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Medical Marijuana Still Banned on Campus: Regents Can’t Risk Losing Federal Funds

Initiated Measure 26 be darned: even if the doctor says marijuana is good for what ails you, the Board of Regents won’t let you eat your therapeutic brownies on campus in South Dakota:

South Dakota’s public universities won’t allow medical marijuana use on campuses or at university-sponsored events, the state Board of Regents decided Wednesday.

The reason: Marijuana remains illegal under federal law and universities would potentially lose federal funds.

Regents’ legal counsel Nathan Lukkes said the universities would be in violation of the drug-free schools act and the drug-free workplace act.

“From a black and while letter of the law standpoint, it is what it is,” he said [Bob Mercer, “S.D. Universities Will Stay Marijuana-Free, Regardless of Medical Marijuana Program,” KELO-TV, 2021.06.23].

Medical marijuana cardholders can still take their cannabis prescriptions at home, but they better not be loopy when they get to campus:

When reporting to work, employees must not be impaired or otherwise unable to perform their work duties. Likewise, students attending class or participating in activities may not be impaired or otherwise disrupt academic or campus activities as a result of their off-campus medical marijuana use. Employees and students who violate those restrictions are subject to disciplinary action, the policy states [South Dakota Board of Regents, press release, 2021.06.23].

The Regents are cutting some slack for medical marijuana users. The BOR policy revisions include adding medical cannabis cardholder status to the conditions that can qualify a student for a waiver from the requirement that students live on campus for the their first two years.


  1. buckobear 2021-06-28

    … but they can still carry a gun, right?

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-06-28

    Gosh, our weekly impairment trip to the bowling alley when they had an afternoon of quarter beers with an olive in each one was illegal? Grad school would never have been the same in Vermin town.

  3. John Dale 2021-06-28

    Thank God! We’re saved! Those pesky college students will NEVER smoke the devil’s lettuce in campus, now!

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-06-28

    Is it true, that after the July 01 implementation of 100 people WITHOUT a medical cannabis card will still be subject to the draconian laws, mandatory urine tests, bail bond blackmail, and $10,000 plus legal fees that have been in place, for possession of under an ounce of ganja?

    If so, decriminalize marijuana A.S.A.P.

  5. Ryan 2021-06-28

    We’ll see porter. Here I am still hoping for a July 1 opinion from the SD Supreme Court that recreational cannabis is legal… but of course, everyone knows i’m a hopeless romantic.

  6. DaveFN 2021-06-28

    “Furthermore, SDSM&T prohibits the possession of empty alcoholic beverage containers of any kind. ”

    Definite policy update needed to include “prohibits the possession empty marijuana paraphernalia of any kind including but not limited to empty bongs, empty cigarette papers, empty roach clips…”

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-28

    Well…this is interesting. Young folks who smoke a couple joints have been disciplined to a hellish extreme. Jail, prison, long paroles, disruption of education, being fired from jobs, having professional licenses suspended, draconian fines, and wearing the new scarlet letter. And now, when legalization comes to a vote 69.8% vote yes Enough!. It would seem that our Republican leadership has found a way to alienate nearly every family in the state who have had a spouse, a child, a niece or nephew, an uncle or aunt punished way too severely for what is a benign form of recreation.Enough of this nonsense.

  8. M 2021-06-28

    Sorry but it’s like telling the students they can’t use their cell phones on campus. Ha, pot’s been illegal all this time and it’s been smoked there all this time. What’s to stop them now?

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-06-28

    Your absolutely right about that Arlo. I had a good friend who did museum work, got busted and nobody would hire him. He became a housepainter, died well before he should have. Republicans think by overcharging everyone they can keep control of things, and prevent change. They like power over people who disagree with them.

  10. Terry 2021-06-28

    Can the Board of Regents cite any university in any state that has lost any federal funding due to allowing medical marijuana on it’s campus?

  11. Spike 2021-06-29


    I’m glad the regents have FINALLY taken action against the lettuce. After all I’m sure none of them inhaled when they were at that party in College. We must be vigilant or the demon weed take hold in our higher learning institutions.

    Julian Hall was a dispensery back then. And the law school was a den of iniquity. As a result people received great educations, made lifelong friends and relationships and carried Johnson, Dashle, the Herseths and many state gov democrats. They did this with their friends and socially conscious farmers. There was balance and I believe they helped SD with good projects and policy. Then Newt, Ronnie, Rush, Janklow and others ruined that. What comes out of Pierre now is unbelievably regressive. Wow

    So hopefully the dispensery 1 block off campus (or in Sioux Falls or Meckling) will bring back the glory days. :)

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-29

    From Mike’s link: Justice Thomas is unhappy with the federal government’s piecemeal approach to enforcing marijuana laws. But his complaint is in the context of the IRS’s continued enforcement of the rule banning marijuana businesses from deducting their expenses. Would that position help a student or faculty member beat the Regents’ no-pot policy in court, or would that position only help if a student were suing the federal government directly over its haphazard and arbitrary enforcement?

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-29

    M, sure, there’s pot on campus now despite bans, but the university isn’t trying to prevent use; it’s trying to prevent losing its federal funds. They don’t have to end marijuana use to make the feds happy; they just have to demonstrate they have a policy in place and punish people they catch breaking it.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-29

    A new commenter still in the moderation queue [check your email, first-time commenters: confirm that you and your email address are real, and your comment goes up] asks if any university in any medical-marijuana state has ever lost federal funding for allowing medical marijuana on campus.

    Jason Ortiz, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said he doubts the concerns universities commonly cite are even warranted.

    “I don’t think there’s been a single time when the federal government pulled funding for a university based on their cannabis policy,” Ortiz said [Michael Sessa, “Legalization Leaves Students Using Marijuana Medically with Questions,” The Daily Orange, 2021.05.12].

    Can anyone find an instance of the feds’ pulling funding for universities that allow medical marijuana on campus?

    The Sessa article also quotes a lawyer who says that as long as users are discreet, universities probably aren’t going to bust them. Here, the Regents aren’t proposing random drug tests or backpack searches on the way to class.

    And really, if you’re taking medicine that makes you so high that someone would notice, you probably shouldn’t be out and about anyway.

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