Medical Marijuana legal in Illinois, still banned from campus

By Khyeria Ferguson

February 11, 2014

The legalization of marijuana has undoubtedly been a bouncing debate in America over the past two decades. This shifty topic has aroused several concerns regarding improper use and illegal distribution, but the most recent concern is who should have legal access to marijuana.

On Aug. 1, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a state bill with strict regulations legalizing medical marijuana, thus making Illinois the 20th state to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes. Earlier in 2013, the House and Senate approved a proposal that allows for doctors to prescribe marijuana to terminally ill patients who suffer from a list of 42 illnesses, including HIV and cancer. The legislation became official across the state on Jan. 1.

Compared to other state marijuana laws, Illinois is said to hold the strictest rules. Before retrieval, patients must qualify for a state approved I.D. showing approval for legal medical marijuana use. Patients must also be 18 years of age, undergo a background check and surrender their right to bear arms. In exchange, doctors may only prescribe patients up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks, the prescribing doctor must have ongoing history of patient treatment and people can only be purchased from one of 60 state-regulated dispensing centers under 24-hour surveillance.

Individuals who meet requirements are forbidden from smoking in front of people under 18 years of age and must not commit any actions pertaining to misconduct or abuse of the drug.

While Illinois has not passed a law regarding legal recreational use of marijuana, the use of marijuana on college campuses, including Dominican, remains a punishable offense. Use in the residence halls results in police confiscation of the drug and a conduct hearing and any other use on university property results in police and further university disciplinary action.

Despite the new state law, the administration at Dominican continues to enforce its zero tolerance policy towards marijuana.

“Dominican has a policy that abides by federal guidelines,” Dean of Students Trudi Goggin said. “The use of marijuana is not allowed on campus.”

Regardless of state laws, Goggin mentioned that students are at risk of scholarship losses should they be caught on campus with marijuana.

“If students choose to violate federal laws, students can lose their federal funding and we do not want to lose federal financial aid funds,” Goggin added. “Although the use of marijuana has been decriminalized, it is still illegal in federal terms.”

Even if a Dominican student is approved for medical marijuana, the drug itself is not permitted on campus. By dismissing this new law, Dominican believes it is protecting the student body, perhaps because permitting medical marijuana on campus will affect the school’s image and religious truths. Out of respect for the Dominican community and university policies, students need to know that the new Illinois law should does not make room for students to feel comfortable smoking pot on campus.

Junior Tra’Lisha Davis agrees with Dominican’s policy banning marijuana from campus.

“I think Dominican believes what I believe; just because it’s medical doesn’t make it better,” Davis said. “It is still a drug. In my opinion, I would have to see doctor’s note before allowing students to use it. The student would have to be dying from a serious illness.”

Freshman Guadalupe Navarro understands the negativity that comes with marijuana association and finds that it may be confusing for people to have so many different laws and regulations floating around.

“People look at marijuana in a bad way, whereas cigarettes are more acceptable,” Navarro said. “If pot were allowed on campus, the institution itself would be criticized by society just because it’s not legal anywhere else, and it’s unfortunate that society cannot find a common ground.”