Going to College in a State Where Marijuana Isn't Legal

Going to College in a State Where Marijuana Isn't Legal

Mariam Sulakian
 | 

Dan lives in California, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2018. In the upcoming school year he will attend college in North Carolina, which completely bans any marijuana use. If you, like Dan, are transitioning from living in a state where marijuana is legal to attending school in a state where it’s not, here are some major points you should keep in mind.

1. Check state laws where you will be attending school.

Even if you live in a state where marijuana use is 100% legal, you must still adhere to state regulations in the state where you are attending college. Some states may also have fully legalized marijuana but most will have mixed laws.

For instance, if you’re moving from California to Nevada for school, marijuana laws are fairly consistent in that recreational and medicinal marijuana are fully legalized. Other states like Pennsylvania allow only medical marijuana whereas Texas allows only CBD oil for medicinal use. Depending on the state, marijunana use may or may not be decriminalized. 

Here is a map that can provide a quick glance at state regulations regarding marijuana.


2. What does it mean if a state decriminalizes marijuana? Is it legal?

If a state has decriminalized marijuana that doesn’t mean that marijuana use is necessarily legal in that state. When marijuana is decriminalized, the penalties associated with possession or use are decreased. For instance, whereas before marijuana possession may have been tried as a misdemeanor or felony, it might now be classified as a civil infraction. That means small amounts of recreational marijuana will not result in a felony charge and/or jail time. You might instead receive a monetary fine. Not all states have decriminalized marjiuana.


How does this differ from legalization? In states where marijuana has been legalized, a person can possess or use the drug with no liability as long as they are in accordance with the law, e.g. not driving under the influence.


West Virginia allows only for medical marijuana but has not decriminalized marijiuana. Ohio also allows only medicinal use, but the state has decriminalized marijuana.

3. Just because marijuana might be legal in your state doesn’t mean it’s allowed on campus.

Say the state your college is in legalizes marijuana. Can you bring it on campus? Not necessarily. Many colleges will still consider on campus marijuana use a violation of the student code, similar to alcohol, despite state law since federal law has not legalized use.


In fact, if you attend a school that receives federal funds or you are a student on federal financial aid, cannabis use is disallowed. Even if you don’t fall into either or both of those categories, your school might still prohibit use on campus. Make sure to read up on the school regulations if you’re unsure. More often than not, schools will not allow marijuana use on campus.

4. Can I travel into my school’s state with marijuana?

You may have purchased marijuana legally in your own state; however, that doesn’t mean you can travel with it into another state like your school’s. In fact, the answer is almost always no when it comes to traveling across states with marijuana. Why? Whether you’re driving or flying from one state to another, federal laws will apply–and federally, marijuana is still illegal.

In terms of flying, airplanes fall under the governance of federal law, wherein marijuana is illegal. If you’re driving from one state where marijuana is legal to another where it’s legal, you probably still cannot transport marijuana. Federal authorities have jurisdiction over interstate commerce, and so despite both states legalizing marijuana, you can still get busted at the borders under federal law.


The best option? Leave it at home. Don’t travel with marijuana. It’s not worth the risk.

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Mariam Sulakian

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