Recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts; should it be legal on college campuses too?

A leaf from a cannabis plant
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

By David Pepin:

Ever since the sale of recreational marijuana became legal in Massachusetts, there have been several dispensaries that have cropped up all around the state. There are currently ten marijuana dispensaries opened throughout the state with six more scheduled to open soon according to  

Marijuana has become legal for anyone age 21 or older in the state, with certain restrictions, like a person is only allowed 1 oz on their person at a time and only allowed 10 oz in their homes at a time. It is also illegal to use it in any form in public or to drive under the influence of it at any time.

As expected, the legalization of marijuana has not come without controversy. There are obviously some who are for its legalization and some who are entirely against its legalization.

One of the debates on college campuses is regarding the question: should marijuana become legal on college campuses if it is legal in that state? A college student who is 21 years of age and legally may purchase marijuana in Massachusetts may get in trouble if they are caught with the possession or use of it on their college campus.

There are basically two sides to the debate: on the one hand, colleges have what is called “landlord privilege” which means that they can decide to abide by federal law rather than state law and ban the use and possession of marijuana on their campuses out of fear of losing federal funding.

On the other side of the debate lies the argument that if it is legal in the state then it should be legal to own if you can do so legally. The argument here is that college students who are of age shouldn’t get in trouble for doing something that they can legally do the minute that they step off of campus.

Ian Sullivan, a junior at Assumption College, proposed that, “marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol,” in a sense that the possession and use of it in a non-public area should be allowed for those who are of legal age.

This idea is one that has gained traction among college students, paralleling the use of marijuana to the use of alcohol, which, on most college campuses, is legal for those who are of legal drinking age and living in residence halls that allow it.

In a report from The National Institute of Drug Abuse, it was found that 50.6 percent of college students have reported the use of marijuana at some point during their four years of college, making it the most popular drug on college campuses after alcohol.

Marijuana, like alcohol, is a drug, and therefore can impair a college students decision-making. There are safety issues that arise with the use of any substance along these lines, especially regarding what happens if a student decides to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

In a study published by, Massachusetts was ranked 49th in the country on a list of states with the worst DUI problems with a rate of 1.41 DUI related deaths per 100,000, and a rate of 121 DUI related arrests per 100,000. Facts like these led some to argue that the issue of students deciding to drive while under the influence of marijuana is not as bad as some say it would be.

The legalization of marijuana is still relatively new in Massachusetts and it is still illegal in federal law. It may be impossible to get marijuana legalized on college campuses until it is no longer federally illegal, but one thing is for certain: as more and more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, the case for its legalization on college campuses may grow with it.


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