Legalizing marijuana could put university funding at risk, some say

According to Sensible Washington, a grassroots organization that promotes legalization, 52 percent of the state’s population is in favor of legalizing marijuana. Washington would be one of the first states to decriminalize marijuana.

If the drug becomes legal, some wonder if Washington will risk losing much needed federal funding, as the drug will remain illegal under federal law. On April 15, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she wouldn’t sign any legislation allowing the operation of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.  She made the announcement after receiving notice from the Department of Justice that doing so would result in the federal government seeking out expansive legal action on marijuana operations in Washington.

Some universities in the 15 states that have also legalized licensed medical use of the drug (with permission from a physician) have released statements making it clear the substance is still prohibited on campuses.

Steve Hager, editor of High Times Magazines, recently joined retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent and activist Bob Stutman on Western’s campus for the “Heads vs. Feds” debate over whether marijuana should be legalized.

If schools allowed marijuana on their campuses, Hager said they would lose federal funding in a heartbeat. Byron Starkey, vice president for Governmental Affairs, said only Washington state would be able to make the decision to restrict funding to the university. The federal government would have to limit funds to the state in other ways, he said.

“I would be shocked if the federal government restricted funds from Western,” Starkey said. “Other areas in the federal budget would have more impact on the state.”

In 1984, the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act made 21 the legal drinking age in the United States. The Federal Aid Highway Act was also created restricting a percentage of annual federal funds for states’ highway repair to states such as Idaho, who refused to raise their drinking age from 18-years-old. Starkey said this historical instance is an example of how the federal prohibition of marijuana could still be upheld in the state.

Even if marijuana were to be legalized in Washington, students in possession of the substance would still risk federal prosecution because federal law always trumps state law.

via : WesternFrontOnline

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