SMC officials to students: Pot still forbidden on campus

Don Campbell / HP staff

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College officials are making it clear that marijuana won’t be allowed on their campuses despite the passage of the statewide recreational marijuana ballot initiative earlier this month.

That was the message from SMC President David Mathews and other college officials at this week’s monthly board meeting. Mathews and Director of Campus Security and Conduct Lyndon Parrish reiterated to the board what the college had told students and staff last week.

Mathews pointed out that federal law and the fact that the college receives federal funding precludes SMC from allowing any recreational marijuana use, even if officials wanted to. The ballot proposal approved by voters Nov. 6 legalizes possession and use of marijuana in specified amounts by individuals 21 years of age and older.

“We would like to remind everyone that this new state law will not change policies prohibiting the use or possession of marijuana on any property owned or managed by Southwestern Michigan College,” an email to SMC students and staff noted last week.

“Marijuana use remains illegal and fully criminalized according to federal law and SMC is subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1099 and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendment of 1989. SMC policies prohibit marijuana in all its forms on Southwestern Michigan College property and SMC-sponsored events or activities.”

Mathews noted that employees and students who violate college policy prohibiting the use or possession of illegal drugs will continue to be subject to legal and disciplinary action.

He pointed to similar measures being taken by other public colleges and universities around the state. For example, Michigan State University officials sent out a letter to their employees and students, as did Western Michigan University officials.

“Marijuana is not conducive to a productive learning or work environment,” WMU officials wrote. “It remains an illegal drug under federal law. The university has obligations under the Federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act which was established to foster a safe and drug-free learning environment that supports student academic achievement.”