Despite legalization, marijuana still banned at UAF
by Chris Hoch
Ballot Measure 2 passed on the Nov. 4 ballot this year, legalizing up to one ounce of cannabis for adults at least 21 years of age with regard to Alaska state law effective in February. Federally, the drug is still illegal; a first offense possession conviction can result in one year of incarceration and a first offense sale conviction can result in five years of incarceration.
The UAF Board of Regents won’t change their policy with regard to cannabis despite Alaska state law legalizing its use and possession.
In order to receive federal funding, UAF must comply with the Safe & Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act. Failure to comply will result in a retraction of funding, which would be especially severe given how deep in the red UAF already is. UAF adjusted for a $12 million budget gap this year and Chancellor Brian Rogers is looking to identify $14 million more in savings, including $3 million from academic programs.
Students living on campus will continue to be disallowed from associating themselves with cannabis. Violation of Residence Life policies, which prohibit its use, will result in disciplinary action potentially including expulsion from the dormitories.
Employees of UAF are also still subject to drug testing under federal regulations, and testing positively for the use of cannabis will result in sanctions, potentially including termination, even when in compliance with state and law and without allowing intoxication to impact work.
Some at UAF believe that the Board of Regents should change their policy regarding cannabis.
“I’ve always felt that smoking weed is a victimless crime,” Cody Gaines, computer science student, said.
“I think we should decriminalize all drugs,” Alex Wynne, UAF honors student, said.
Some at UAF take a more moderate approach. “I think the Board of Regents should consider changing their policy about marijuana,” said Emily Jones, biology student. “We should look at how the universities in Colorado are dealing with it.” In Jones’ opinion, regulation of marijuana should be like the regulations in place for alcohol, and it should be allowed in wet dorms.
“There needs to be a compromise. There has to be some sort of balance between state law and federal law,” said Jeffrey Olds, Bartlett Hall resident.
Regardless of right or wrong, UAF needs money, and following federal regulation is one way to get it.
“It’s not legal and people do it anyway,” said Lida Zakurdaew, peer mentor for the freshmen students at UAF. Zakurdaew says she understands why marijuana is regulated as such by the Board of Regents, but wishes it would be federally legal.
*This article was edited on 12/19/14 to remove a misquote.