Medical marijuana patients can't smoke in CU dorms -- and NORML rep says that's discriminatory

Today's Boulder Daily Camera features a story about a policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder allowing freshman students who are also medical marijuana patients to live off-campus rather than in school dorms.

On the surface, this appears to be a liberalizing of policy that reflects an understanding that students who are also patients need access to their medicine. But Alex Douglas, who's a senior at the university, a medical marijuana card holder and the executive director of NORML@CU, sees plenty of problems with the rules. Among them: the difficulty many freshman have in obtaining the medical marijuana cards that CU requires them to produce before making the dorm exception.

"It's a five- or six-month wait to get the cards right now," Douglas says. "So for freshmen who are just turning eighteen, and who've just realizing that medical marijuana can help them, it's very discriminatory."

As Douglas acknowledges, CU bans everything from cigarette smoking to the use of candles in dorms, because they're viewed as fire hazards. But he feels an exception should be made for medical marijuana patients.

"I can understand the fire and safety concerns of the university," he says. "But marijuana is a drug that is used most conveniently with a lighter or a match, and I believe the university should embrace the state law and the state constitution applying to medical marijuana and allow students to have their medicine."

Requiring freshmen students who are also medical marijuana patients to move off-campus dilutes their CU experience, Douglas believes.

"Their first year is their introduction to college," he notes, "and I'm sure not being able to live on-campus has an effect on their grades, on their social life, on time management. And I don't think it's okay for any incoming freshman or anyone on campus not to be able to use their medicine in the comfort of their own residence."

How to solve this problem? Unsurprisingly, Douglas advocates the legalization of marijuana across the board. Until then, however, he's open to conversations with CU administrators about amending university policy, perhaps by assigning medical marijuana patients who are students to residence halls where smoking would be allowed.

"NORML@CU is here for students and community members if they need help on any issues," he says. "We want to give them the best advice possible on where to live or what to do or how to consume. It's a very difficult strategy, because they cannot keep their medicine with them at school, because it's illegal to have marijuana, even medical marijuana, on campus, But we'll make sure students are treated like human beings and not like drug offenders when they're following the state law."

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