How will recreational marijuana affect the NIU community?

By Noah Johnson

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker signing House Bill 1438 in June, the long-standing era of marijuana prohibition will come to an end for the state of Illinois starting Jan. 1.   

The bill aims to regulate and tax cannabis in a similar manner to alcohol, while also offering social and criminal justice reforms, according to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”<p>Starting Jan. 1, Illinois residents 21 and over may possess and purchase  cannabis and cannabis products from licensed stores, according to a <a href="">Marijuana Policy Project</a> overview of key CRTA provisions.  Possession is limited to 30 grams of raw cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis product in concentrated form and 500 mg of THC in cannabis- infused products, allowing nonresidents to possess and purchase half of these amounts. </p> <p>According to the CRTA, cannabis will be regulated in the following ways:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr">Can only be sold by business- licensed, tax paying individuals </li> <li dir="ltr">Age must be proved before purchase</li> <li dir="ltr">Will be tested and labeled to inform of any known health risk </li> <li dir="ltr">Selling, distributing, or transferring to persons under 21 is illegal </li> <li dir="ltr">Driving under the influence remains illegal </li> <li dir="ltr">Medical cannabis patients may grow up to 5 plants of cannabis in their homes</li> </ul> <p>In addition to these reforms, the CRTA proposes automatic criminal record expungement by way of the governor’s clemency process for individuals with marijuana convictions up to 30 grams, the Marijuana Policy Project overview said.  Individuals with convictions of 30 to 500 grams are eligible for record expungement as well but will be tasked with petitioning the court to vacate the conviction.</p> <p>Employers of Illinois will be at liberty to prohibit the use or possession of cannabis, as long as their policies are applied in a nondiscriminatory manner, according to the CRTA.</p>” id=”aa85df7e-0beb-4b94-b7aa-7fcc27b25488″ style-type=”info” title=”The Law” type=”relcontent”}}

How will the legalization of marijuana affect the community?

NIU’s response

The use and possession of marijuana will continue to be illegal on campus due to the Smoke-Free Campus Act, Jason John said, Deputy Chief of Police Operations at NIU’s Department of Police and Public Safety.  The Smoke-Free Campus Act prohibits smoking on the property of state-supported institutions of higher education.

However, the CRTA criteria for use, purchase, and possession shall be applicable to individuals off campus, John said.

In the meantime, a committee will be formed for the purpose of educating the NIU community about the implications the CRTA may or may not have on campus, NIU Spokesperson Joe King said.

Colorado State’s response

Since 2014, Colorado universities have experienced the effects brought about by legalization due to the passing of Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution.

Similar to how the CRTA will prohibit the use and possession of marijuana on NIU’s campus due to federal law, Colorado State University prohibits the use and possession of marijuana on their campus as well, according to the University’s guidelines on marijuana.

“At the federal level, the Controlled Substances Act criminalizes the growing and use of marijuana, and it is well settled that federal enforcement agencies can prosecute users and growers of marijuana. As a controlled substance, use and possession of marijuana is also prohibited by the Student Conduct Code and is not permitted on campus,” according to the school’s guidelines. 

Colorado State University’s Police Department does not weigh in on the legalization of marijuana and its effects and did not comment.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the University of Colorado rather than Colorado State University.