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Marijuana: DU sends students drug-policy e-mail before Amendment 64 becomes law

The passage of Amendment 64, which became law earlier today, presents challenges for Colorado colleges, since lotsa students are as confused about the measure as many members of the public. That likely explains why the University of Denver chose last week to send enrollees a copy of its drug policy -- one that forbids the use or possession of marijuana anywhere on campus. See it below.

As pointed out in the e-mail, on view in its entirety below, developing policies and procedures about the use of illicit drugs and alcohol is required of institutions like DU by the Drug-Free Schools and Campus Act, as well as assorted state and federal laws, and sharing this information with students has become commonplace. However, this information is typically distributed at the beginning of school years or semesters -- and while Amendment 64 isn't mentioned anywhere in the document, the timing of its release just weeks after Colorado voters gave the proposal their blessing, and days before Governor John Hickenlooper signed it, likely wasn't coincidental.

Having the message hit inboxes a few days before two CU-Boulder students were arrested for feeding a professor and classmates pot brownies without mentioning the secret ingredient qualifies as serendipity, though.

No specific drugs are name-checked in the e-mail, credited to associate provost for student life Patricia Helton and associate provost for graduate students Barbara Wilcots. But there are links aplenty, including one noting that the DU honor code "specifically addresses the unlawful possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students."

The honor code is also on view in this post. It states that "drug misuse includes, but is not limited to...possession, use, manufacture, or distribution of any illegal drug, or any possession or use of any prescription drug or other controlled substance except under the direction of a licensed physician." The passage adds that "the manufacture or distribution of any drug is also prohibited. Marijuana, including Medical Marijuana, is prohibited on campus."

The e-mail also features allusions to discipline for violations, whose outcomes range from warnings to dismissal from the university. But the note supplements such mentions with the following warning: "Be advised that these disciplinary sanctions may be in addition to any legal or criminal consequences that may result from the violation of federal, state or local laws."

The use of the word "federal" above is key, since Amendment 64 violates federal law, which considers marijuana to be a Schedule I substance that's wholly illegal -- and rumors about a potential Justice Department crackdown on Colorado continue to rumble.

But even if the feds decide to keep their distance, DU appears wary, and no wonder. After all, A64 only allows possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for adults age 21 and over. Sorry, kids.

Continue to read the e-mail to University of Denver students and the DU honor code.   University of Denver drug-policy e-mail:

Dec. 4, 2012

Dear Student,

The University of Denver is committed to the health, safety and well-being of the entire community. As an institution, DU has implemented policies and procedures to ensure that our campus community prevents the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by all students and employees on school premises as part of DU activities. This is required by the regulations of the Drug-Free Schools and Campus Act as well as relevant state and federal laws.

Standards of Conduct: As required by the above regulation, the following notice provides the DU community with pertinent information to ensure compliance as well as keep the campus community safe.

DU has established standards of conduct ("The Honor Code") that specifically addresses the unlawful possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students. All students are obliged to be familiar with the code: http://www.du.edu/studentlife/studentconduct/honor_code_2012-2013.pdf.

Additionally, students should be familiar with the specific student conduct policies as they relate to Alcohol Misuse (Item #2) and Drug Misuse (Item #3). http://www.du.edu/studentlife/studentconduct/policies.html

Lastly, graduate students should be aware of their graduate unit's professional standards in addition to the University's standards.

Legal Sanctions Members of the University community should be aware that there are significant legal sanctions associated with the misuse of drugs and alcohol. Federal statutes related to illicit drug use are summarized here: http://summersandschneider.com/criminal-defense/drug-crime-defense/federal-drug-laws/.

Colorado statutes address the use of underage drinking and substance use here: http://alcohollaws.org/coloradoalcohollaws Unlawful Possession -- C.R.S. 18-18-403.5 Unlawful Use -- C.R.S. 18-18-404

Health Risks The misuse of drugs and alcohol may result in significant health risks and impact the long-term health of individuals. A good summary of health impact may be reviewed here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-drugs-chart.

Treatment Resources The University of Denver provides on-campus resources for the assessment and short-term treatment for individuals who have drug or alcohol problems.

For students, the Health and Counseling Center has licensed mental health professionals and an addiction counselor who can provide evaluation, short-term treatment, and/or referral for substance abuse treatment. More information can be found here: http://www.du.edu/duhealth/counseling/drug_alcohol.html.

The metropolitan Denver community has a variety of drug and alcohol treatment programs. A summary of resources is located here: http://www.theagapecenter.com/Treatment-Centers/Colorado.htm and here: http://local.soberrecovery.com/Alcohol_Treatment_Centers_Denver_CO-r1298608-Denver_CO.html.

Disciplinary Outcomes Student Conduct maintains a list of possible outcomes for students found responsible for violating the Honor Code and/or Student Conduct Policy as it relates to substance misuse. Be advised that these disciplinary sanctions may be in addition to any legal or criminal consequences that may result from the violation of federal, state or local laws. A description of possible disciplinary outcomes/interventions for substance abuse violations is located here: http://www.du.edu/studentlife/studentconduct/interventions.html

Graduate students need to adhere to the professional standards set by the graduate unit. Violations of the standards may result in disciplinary action, including possible termination.

We hope that you will take the time to review the important information above, to familiarize yourself with the policies, the consequences of violations, and the resources available to provide assistance should you need it.

Patricia S. Helton, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Student Life Barbara J. Wilcots, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Graduate Studies

University of Denver honor code; the first reference to marijuana is on the bottom of page five.

University of Denver Honor Code

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana joke gone bad at CU-Boulder dubbed 'pot brownie assault.'"


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