Marijuana On School Grounds? Proceed With Caution
The primary concern for public school administrators is that marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which means the federal government continues to take the position there is no acceptable medical use of the drug. Accordingly, the use of medical marijuana within 1,000 yards of school property could cause schools who receive federal funding to run afoul of the Drug Free Workplace Act and cause a loss of that federal funding.
While that result remains a theoretical possibility, the Department of Justice has been consistent in its position that it does not intend to interfere with the regulation of marijuana at the state level and continues to take a backseat approach. In addition, because federal agencies have broad discretion in enforcing drug-free workplace requirements, it is likely any loss of federal funding would occur only after less damaging options have failed.
Nonetheless, administrators of both public and private schools should approach the use of medical marijuana by students on school property with caution. There is currently little guidance, even at the state level, to assist administrators in developing appropriate and defensible policies. A handful of states—including Illinois, Colorado, Maine, and New Jersey—have enacted legislation authorizing students to consume medical marijuana on school property under certain conditions. Still others, including Washington and Florida, have preferred to allow consumption of medical marijuana on school grounds while leaving the specific rules governing use up to the individual school districts. Yet the vast majority of states have remained silent on what is perceived as a potentially controversial issue.