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The Permitted Use of Marihuana, What You Really Need to Know

In 2008, Michigan voters approved a referendum permitting the use of marihuana for medical purposes. This voter referendum led to the creation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). The MMMA creates an immunity from arrest, prosecution, and penalty for the use of marihuana by qualified patients, who are in full compliance of the Act. Additionally, the MMMA provides a defense for those who are not completely within the requirements of the Act.

Foremost, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act acknowledges the medicinal benefits of marihuana for treating or alleviating the symptoms of certain medical conditions such as, cancer, glaucoma, Crohn's disease, HIV, Hepatitis, etc. and symptoms from chronic or debilitating medical disease. Once an individual has been approved and registered with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, an individual is permitted to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marihuana and up to 12 marihuana plants, for medical use. Though this may seem like a registered individual is free to possess their medical marihuana anywhere they wish, this unfortunately is not the case.

The MMMA notes the presence of conflicting Federal laws, which prohibit the use of marijuana in nearly all scenarios. However, the Act continues to assert that States are not required to enforce, or prosecute individuals who are in violation of federal law. Though the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act is correct in stating that the State of Michigan is not required to enforce or prosecute those in violation of federal crimes, this does not mean that the federal government itself will not enforce violations of federal law. This is the designation that becomes especially important to student's attending, and/or residing at, a federally funded university.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (as amended) are Federal Acts, which prohibit the possession or use of illegal drugs on campus. The Federal Controlled Substances Act still includes marijuana as a schedule I drug, with no medical use exception. Thus, any college or university that receives federal funding must adhere to these Acts, and the prohibition against marijuana, or lose these federal subsidies, and effectively terminate the school's ability to remain in operation.

Michigan State University is no exception to the federally funded predicament. Specifically, Michigan State University had a drug and alcohol policy that prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, possession or use of a controlled substance on campus. However, In accordance with the MMMA, Michigan State has provided an exception to their policy that requires first year students to live in on campus housing. First year students who are registered under the MMMA are permitted to live off of campus and are still able to utilize medical marihuana.

Michigan State University's marijuana prohibition may be especially surprising to Michigan State students, as the City of East Lansing has decriminalized marijuana within its city limits. In May 2015, the city of East Lansing legalized the possession and use of less than one ounce of marijuana, on private property, by an individual who is at least 21 years of age. This decriminalization applies only to the city of East Lansing, and only on private property. The city of Lansing has also decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce of marijuana, on private property, by an individual who is at least 21.

Student's should be aware that Michigan State's campus, as well as all other public property, is not covered by the East Lansing city ordinance. There are no exceptions to Michigan State University's marijuana prohibition. Any licensed medical marihuana user, as well as recreational users in permitted cities, should be conscious of where they possess marijuana, especially when visiting a public campus.

Note: The State of Michigan spells marihuana with an h, whereas the Federal Government spells marijuana with a j. 

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