Though medical marijuana is now legal in Rhode Island, administrators maintain that under both state and federal law, the University cannot allow smoking of marijuana on school grounds.
Medical marijuana was legalized in Rhode Island June 16, 2009 after state legislators voted to override a veto by then-Gov. Donald Carcieri '65. Three new dispensaries for medical marijuana will open in Rhode Island this summer.
Despite the state's legalization of medical marijuana and imminent opening of dispensaries, the University released a statement saying it would not permit smoking on campus because Rhode Island and federal law "prohibit smoking marijuana on any school grounds, including college campuses."
According to the statement, "Any breach of the federal law would put Brown's eligibility for federal funding at risk. A student with an illness serious enough to warrant a doctor's prescription for medical marijuana would need to consult with Brown's Health Services to identify options to meet their needs in compliance with the law."
Mark Porter, chief of police and director of public safety, did not respond to requests for comment.
The University's policy is in compliance with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, which does not allow students to "manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense" any illicit drug, according to the Office of Student Life website.
If an officer catches a student violating the rules regarding drug use — even if the student is in possession of medical marijuana with a valid license — the student may be suspended, dismissed or expelled from the University in accordance with the non-academic disciplinary code.
Students caught with marijuana by off-campus law enforcement officers may be subject to more stringent legal sanctions like imprisonment and hefty fines.