August 10, 2018, Oklahoma
Obstacles for medical marijuana access in Oklahoma are protruding one after another. Just a couple of days ago, the Governor ratified the provisional regulation bill that excludes most of the restrictive provisions. But now, the announcement from the two largest public universities of the state has hit Oklahoma’s six-week-old medical marijuana program. They have decided to ban medical marijuana on campuses. Even though the universities acknowledge the approval of State Question 788 that broadly legalizes medical marijuana, they have chosen to follow federal legislation on the strain due to funding issues.
Oklahomans rejected the government’s prohibition policy regarding cannabis by voting and approving the State Question 788. But ever since the success of public ballot, the state lawmakers and administration are trying to undermine the program. The last-minute changes to the emergency rules is a clear demonstration of such attempts.
The voters’ will finally prevail when the Gov. approved the emergency bill without its onerous provisions. However, as soon as that obstacle was removed, the state’s major universities erected another. Administrations of the University of Oklahoma (UO) and Oklahoma State University (OSU) have announced that medical cannabis won’t be allowed at their campuses.
This means students on the university campuses, even those with state authorization, won’t be able to possess and use medical marijuana. Same rules will be applied to staff and other employees of the universities as well. In short, medical cannabis will be completely banned on the campuses of both universities.
OSU and UO issued a joint statement to cite the reasons for banning medical cannabis on their campuses. According to the statement, compliance with federal legislation is a prerequisite for receiving funding from the federal government. The Federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act prohibits the possession and consumption of illegal drugs (as per federal laws) on campuses and any institute-sponsored event. Cannabis is still classified as Schedule I controlled substance in federal legislation. So, this federal act overrides the state legislation on cannabis, particularly for all those state universities and colleges linked to federal aid.
In addition, the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act has also forced the universities to ban medical cannabis. This act entails the enforcement of drug-free workplace policies in all such places that have signed any sort of federal contract. Since UO and OSU both have signed several federal agreements, therefore they can’t allow medical marijuana for the staff and faculty members as well.
It is pretty common for educational institutes to not allow the use of medical cannabis on their premises even after statewide legalization. Most of them cite the same concerns of falling out of federal compliance and consequent fund cuts. However, in reality, not a single university allowing cannabis on the campus has faced any such consequences. Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has even set up a research program to study the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. The university hasn’t received any warning from the federal authorities until now and it’s very unlikely to happen in the future too.