COLUMBIA, Mo. – Recreational marijuana is now legal in Missouri for those 21 and older, but because of federal law, it’s not allowed in places like universities and colleges.
While the state’s constitution changed Thursday to include the 30-plus page Amendment 3, what’s not changing is the University of Missouri System’s policy on marijuana. Students, faculty, staff, and even visitors are not allowed to possess or use cannabis on any of the four campuses.
“It’s not the university that has made this decision, it’s the federal government,” Mizzou Communications Director Christian Basi said.
Last month, Missouri voters decided to join 20 other states in legalizing marijuana. It became official in the state 30 days later. People 21 and older are allowed to possess up to three ounces of weed, but campuses are still off limits because of federal law.
“We have policies in place that do not allow anyone, employee, student, or visitor, to be in the possession of or use marijuana while they are on campus,” Basi said.
Mizzou, Missouri University of Science and Technology, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis all have policies prohibiting marijuana, including with medical cards. Violation of those policies can lead to a verbal reprimand or expulsion for students and termination for a staff member.
“That’s the catch; nothing has changed,” Basi said. “We’ve always had this policy.”
The policy is in response to the federal Drug-Free Schools and Community Act which was passed back in 1989 and the Drug-Free Workplace Act passed in 1988. Violating either one of those congressional acts could put the federal funding at risk.
Cannabis will still not be allowed at footballs, concerts or activities sponsored by the University of Missouri System. Basi said Mizzou won’t change its enforcement because of legalization.
“If in our regular policing, we come across individuals who have it in their possession, it will be treated as it normally would have been treated yesterday,” Basi said.
Laine Moseley, a junior health studies student at Mizzou, said since it’s legal across the state, it should be on campus.
“It’s not fair,” Moseley said. “Why are you [the university] so lenient with alcohol than you would be with weed, which is also now legal?” Moseley said. “It’s not like you have to walk far to get to a bar, so why should there be a difference of alcohol and weed when they are both legal now.”
Moseley, who is from a Chicago suburb, said now that marijuana is legal, it’s given her friends a sense of ease.
“A lot of my friends said finally, because there always was a risk of am I going to get in trouble, is this something that could ruin the rest of my life,” Moseley said.
The university is asking parents to talk to their students about the policies.
Even though recreational marijuana officially became legal Thursday, the state’s health department said dispensaries won’t be selling product until at least early February. As of Thursday, dispensaries could apply to have their license expanded through the Department of Health and Senior Services. A comprehensive license would allow a dispensary, manufacturer or cultivation facility to sell recreational and medical marijuana.
According to Amendment 3, the state has up to 60 days to approve a dispensary’s application.
Missourians will be able to grow marijuana in their own homes, but you will have to get a personal cultivation card from the state, which won’t be available until next February.
Another part of the referendum is that non-violent marijuana offenses will be automatically expunged, but those currently serving time in prison or on parole will have to petition the court to have their sentences vacated and their records expunged.
The university has added a list of marijuana FAQs on its website regarding the new law.