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Medical Marijuana

GCC to decide medical marijuana use policy

GREENFIELD — With a medical marijuana dispensary proposed for the downtown, Greenfield Community College is working to develop a policy on whether to allow marijuana for medicinal purposes on campus by the spring.

Currently, the school does not have a policy since the state legalized the drug for medicine two years ago. The Student Development Committee, which looks at policy and procedure at the college, will take up the issue this year and have a policy in place by the spring, Director of Student Development Judy Raper said.

In the meantime, students who do have certification from a doctor can consult the Student Affairs Office, which would determine whether the student can use the marijuana on campus, on a case-by-case basis, Raper said.

There haven’t been any concerns expressed by students or requests for prescriptions yet, Raper said.

Non-medicinal use of marijuana remains prohibited, in accordance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, Raper said. And students caught using the substance would be subject to criminal charges and a student disciplinary hearing. Faculty members found distributing, possessing or using any controlled substance on campus would face disciplinary actions, up to and including termination.

One medical marijuana dispensary hopeful, Patriot Care Corp., has proposed opening a facility at the American Legion building on Legion Way.

Patriot Care is one of four applicants invited by the state to apply for seven open counties, including Franklin County. Applications for the open counties were due earlier this month to the state Department of Public Health. In October, the outcomes of the selection process will be announced.

Like many industries that will have to deal with medical marijuana, colleges across the state are caught in a conundrum. While the state allows marijuana use for medicinal purposes, federal law continues to classify marijuana as an illegal drug.

Many schools are continuing to ban the substance out of fear of losing federal student financial aid.

When asked to comment on the potential of losing federal funds if GCC does allow medical marijuana use, Raper said she could not comment.

UMass policy

The school’s neighbor to the south, the University of Massachusetts, is one of several schools statewide that will continue to ban all marijuana use, medical or not, on university property under the Code of Student Conduct.

According to the university’s code, “The use, possession and/or cultivation of marijuana for medical or recreational use is prohibited on all university property. UMass Amherst will continue to enforce its controlled substance policy.”

“Essentially, we don’t allow for medical marijuana use on campus based on federal law,” said Edward F. Blaguszewski, executive director of news and media relations at UMass.

“Most colleges and universities follow the federal standard that we follow,” Blaguszewski said. “Otherwise, student financial aid could be in jeopardy. That’s our interpretation based on our understanding of the law.”

So far, University Health Services reports that there have not been any complaints about lack of access to medical marijuana on campus. Neither has there been a request for a prescription for it, Blaguszewski said.

Students caught with marijuana on the Amherst campus would be charged and cited. The matter would be sent to the dean of students for a hearing.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268 On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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