SAFETY-105: Cannabis Use on Campus Policy

Impact Area: SUNY Morrisville (Morrisville campus, Norwich campus, EOC)

Author: University Police / Human Resources

Policy Summary

On March 31, 2021, New York enacted the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), legalizing and regulating the use and possession of cannabis for adults ages 21 and up across the state.  However, the MRTA’s impact is limited for SUNY campuses based on continuing requirements of federal law.  This new state law did not change policies prohibiting the use, possession, or sale of marijuana on the SUNY Morrisville campuses. 

What does the MRTA mean for SUNY campuses?

Although the MRTA changes the way New York State regulates cannabis, using and possessing cannabis in any form remains a crime under federal law. Specifically, New York colleges and universities remain bound by their federal requirements under the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act. Under these laws, the use, possession, and distribution of cannabis for any reason must be prohibited and subject to student code of conduct or employee disciplinary actions. Failure to comply with federal law may result in termination of all forms of federal financial assistance, including federal student financial aid grants. 

As a result, all existing campus policies prohibiting the use of cannabis must remain in effect. Possession or use of cannabis must remain prohibited on all SUNY property in public or residence halls or offices (including university-owned and leased buildings, housing, and parking lots) and at all campus events or while conducting campus business, except for approved academic research.  In addition to traditional cannabis buds that are smoked using rolling papers, bowls, bongs, or other paraphernalia, cannabis may also take the form of edibles, including candies, cookies, and brownies.  None of these forms are permitted within SUNY-owned or operated accommodations, and residence life professional and para-professional staff must adopt a consistent protocol for confrontation and documentation procedures regardless of the form of cannabis.

Additionally, medical cannabis remains prohibited in SUNY-owned or operated accommodations. Existing New York Department of Health regulations governing medical cannabis, including the prohibition from using medical cannabis on college campuses or in college dormitories or residence halls, will remain in effect unless modified or abrogated by the newly established New York State Office of Cannabis Management.

Employees and students who violate SUNY policy prohibiting the use, possession, or sale of illegal drugs on campus will continue to be subject to legal or disciplinary action.  Additionally, criminal penalties for selling, exchanging, or disposing of cannabis for compensation range from a violation for less than three ounces to a felony for over one hundred pounds.

Smoking and vaping in all college buildings is prohibited, which is in accordance with the NYS Clean Indoor Air Act.  It is illegal and puts all building occupants at risk to tamper with or damage any smoke or fire-related alarms or devices that would be able to detect smoke or any substance in any building on SUNY property.  These regulations will remain strictly enforced on our campus due to the potential of serious risk to life and damage to property. 

Furthermore, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any intoxicating substance is not only dangerous and irresponsible, but is illegal, and will be strictly enforced by members of law enforcement.