In America today, the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws has turned colleges into a battleground as students who are on medical marijuana come together to challenge campus policies that were formed in a different era.
Students disciplined for using medical marijuana in legal states are filing lawsuits against their schools. College officials argue that if the colleges fail to adhere to the federal law that terms marijuana as an illegal drug that is not accepted for medical use, their college could lose federal funding.
Sheida Assar has polycystic ovary syndrome whose symptom is chronic pain. She uses medical marijuana to manage her pain. Last month, she was expelled from Gateway Community College in Phoenix after testing positive for marijuana, which violated the school’s drug policy, said Assar.
According to Assar, an instructor told her that as long as she presented her medical marijuana card, she would have no problems. She further said that she was studying diagnostic medical sonography and never attended class under the influence and that she uses medical marijuana to help with insomnia.
The 31-year-old Assar said that she was yanked out of class like a criminal in the middle of school and escorted to administration. She further said that under the Arizona medical marijuana law, the act was outright discrimination and violation of her rights.
Nursing students and other medical specialties who must undergo compulsory drug testing as per the school policies are the ones raising the legal challenges.
The college employees who serve the students with their health-related needs are the ones who issued Assar and other students with the right to use medical marijuana, only for the higher ranking officials to issue disciplinary action later on.
Assar said that she is suing Gateway for the money spent on tuition, which was $2000 and other educational expenses. She also intends to seek more money in damages. She further said that her lawyer contacted the school.
A 2012 state law that termed it illegal and criminal to possess or consume marijuana in college campuses was overturned last year in a ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Christine Lambrakis, the Gateway spokeswoman, said that she could not comment on Assar’s status at the school and that the college is still prohibiting the use of marijuana. She further noted that although the policies will not change in the meantime, the school is working on reviewing them.
Experts expect the entire marijuana industry, including Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) and Dama Financial to follow these cases brought against colleges since the outcome is likely to prompt states to compel higher education institutions to bring their policies into alignment with the current medical marijuana laws.
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