A look into Colorado State University cannabis policy

Why cannabis is hashed out on campus


Collegian | Garrett Mogel

A no smoking sign posted outside Colorado State University Cottonwood apartment Oct. 18.

Miles Buchan, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University’s prohibitive cannabis policy may seem strange to an outside observer. We live in a legal state and even have a bar on campus, so why isn’t cannabis allowed?

If you have ever wondered what CSU’s policy on cannabis consumption and possession is, then read on. Even though cannabis was legalized in Colorado recreationally almost a decade ago, there are still restrictions in place that limit a person’s ability to possess, purchase and consume cannabis in certain areas.


“Even though Amendment 64 legalized certain activities relating to cannabis, it also ‘specifically authorizes the university — as a school and an employer — to prohibit the possession and use of marijuana,’ according to the CSU Guidelines document.”

According to CSU campus policy, “because marijuana is considered an illicit drug, any use (even medical) is prohibited on campus.”

The rule is elaborated on in CSU guidelines regarding Amendment 64 and Marijuana, a document outlining university policies after the Amendment 64 ballot initiative in 2012 provided an outline for Colorado’s current statewide cannabis policy. The first line of the document reads, “CSU students and employees should understand that possessing, using or selling marijuana continues to be prohibited on campus and during university activities.”

Even though Amendment 64 legalized certain activities relating to cannabis, it also “specifically authorizes the university — as a school and an employer — to prohibit the possession and use of marijuana,” according to the CSU guidelines document.

Furthermore, cannabis is prohibited by CSU policy and the Student Conduct Code because it is still a federally controlled substance. CSU lists the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act as laws that require the university to prohibit cannabis on campus.

These rules apply to all students, staff, volunteers and visitors on campus, but the guidelines specifically list CSU students and employees as people who are prohibited from using or possessing cannabis and who may be subject to discipline for infractions.

Regulations having to do with cannabis on campus can also be found in the Alcohol and Drugs policy, Smoking, Vaping and Tobacco Use policy and Student Conduct Code. The Smoking, Vaping and Tobacco Use policy and Student Conduct Code restate many of the same points listed under the CSU guidelines regarding Amendment 64 and Marijuana.

However, the Alcohol and Drug policy includes two statements that provide a kind of exemption relating to cannabis and CSU’s otherwise strict policy.

The first stipulates that this policy does not apply to “bona fide, approved research projects utilizing alcohol or marijuana or its derivatives, or any other controlled substance, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations and university policies.”

The second exemption relating to cannabis states, “Marijuana derivatives that are or become legal under both federal and state law, are prescribed or recommended by a duly licensed healthcare provider and that have no psychotropic effects are exempt from this policy.”

These provisions may not seem like much, but they both offer a world of opportunities.

The first provision allows the university to have the ability to conduct research about cannabis and other controlled substances so long as they gain approval and follow procedures. The second provision reminds us that the federal categorization and legalization of these substances matters a lot despite statewide legalization.

If cannabis was legalized federally and was no longer considered to be a controlled substance, then all of these policies would likely be adjusted.

Reach Miles Buchan at cannabis@collegian.com or on Twitter @buchanmiles.