Why New York colleges won’t embrace legal weed

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What a buzz kill. New York college students hitting campus this fall — the first semester that recreational marijuana is legal in New York — won’t be allowed to spark up a joint on the quad.

Institutions of higher education won’t be lifting pot prohibitions — if they did, they could lose federal funding.

That’s because marijuana is still prohibited by the federal government as an ultra-dangerous Schedule I drug — even as some states have legalized the substance locally.

“Though New York State has legalized adult-use cannabis, [State University of New York] campuses remain bound by federal requirements under the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act. Under those requirements, along with existing SUNY policy, the use, possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis remains prohibited on SUNY campuses and is subject to code of conduct or disciplinary actions,” SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis told The Post.

She added that Jim Malatras — the chancellor of SUNY and a trusted lieutenant of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — would convene a group “to actively review the provisions and implications of the new law and to provide guidance.”

City University of New York spokesman Frank Sobrino likewise noted that “federal law restricts the use of marijuana on all college campuses.” CUNY is “in the process of examining its existing policies to ensure continued compliance with all state and federal laws,” he added. He also noted that CUNY is smoke-free.

Schools may lose federal funding if they allow marijuana on campus since it's still federally illegal.
Schools may lose federal funding if they allow marijuana on campus since it is still federally illegal.
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Reps for Fordham and St. John’s universities gave similarly blunt statements.

Some student groups and recent graduates, while bummed out, hold out hope for a more liberalized drug culture.

Jason Ortiz, the executive director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, or SSDP, told The Post colleges and universities were using the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act “as an excuse to continue to have punitive policies.”

“I don’t think there has ever been a university that has had its funding pulled for not having a strong enough policy,” he said. “We’re gonna see students really focused on making sure their campus policies are more sensible.”

Alicia Burey — who three weeks ago obtained Excelsior College’s new graduate certificate in cannabis control — said she has high hopes colleges and universities can “open up their policies to be more reflective of the time,” should federal law on marijuana mellow.

“Legalization lets these students come out of the cannabis closet,” Troy Smit, deputy director of Empire State NORML, told The Post. “Colleges have a unique role in cannabis legalization.”

President Biden does not support full legalization of marijuana federally, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said in April.

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