They may have voted to legalize, but marijuana restrictions remain for students
In November, Washington and Colorado voted to allow adults over 21 to possess and use small amounts of marijuana legally. But at universities, which receive federal funding, smoking pot will remain a punishable offense.
Most universities have codes of conduct banning marijuana use, and they get millions of dollars in funding from the federal government, which still considers pot illegal.
With the money comes a requirement for a drug-free campus, and the threat of expulsion for students using pot in the dorms.
"Everything we've seen is that nothing changes for us," said Darin Watkins, a spokesman for Washington State University in Pullman.
So despite college cultures that include pot-smoking demonstrations each year on April 20, students who want to use marijuana will have to do so off campus.
"The first thing you think of when you think of legalized marijuana is college students smoking it," said Anna Marum, a Washington State senior from Kelso, Wash. "It's ironic that all 21-year-olds in Washington can smoke marijuana except for college students."
Voters in November made Washington and Colorado the first states to allow adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and exit polling showed both measures had significant support from younger people. Taxes could bring the states, which can set up licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year, financial analysts say.
But the laws are fraught with complications, especially at places like college campuses. At Washington State, students who violate the code face a variety of punishments, up to expulsion, Watkins said. The same is true at the University of Colorado Boulder, where the student code of conduct prohibits possessing, cultivating or consuming illegal drugs.