Augustana bans medical cannabis

Augustana will not be amending their drug policy anytime soon.

Last spring, Augustana was not sure what marijuana policies would look like on campus this fall. But this summer, administration decided medical and recreational usage of marijuana is prohibited on campus.

According to Rick Tupper,  the associate vice president for Campus Safety and logistics, Augustana is not allowed to endorse marijuana policies on campus due to federal law. Dispensaries will not change that restriction.

“We [Augustana] cannot allow it as long as we take federal financial aid,” Tupper said. “We are a smoke free campus, so we wouldn’t allow the smoking of marijuana even if it was legal [medically or recreationally].”

Schools have certain geographical zones, usually within 1,000 feet of the building(s), that prohibit the use, sale or distribution of narcotics. This policy is known as drug-free school zones.

“It kind of was an easy decision for us,” Mark Blackburn, dean of students, said. “We want to make sure that we are still under federal guidelines, under mandates and underneath the care of the school with the drug free zones.”

Mayor Paul TenHaken recently proposed that the city of Sioux Falls will implement up to five marijuana dispensaries throughout the city. Most dispensaries could be located north of the city near the airport and near the I-29 and I-229 exchange.

As of right now, administration wants students to be fully aware of what the policies are, regardless of the decisions of Sioux Falls and South Dakota.

Along with smoking marijuana, no other form of consumption is permitted on campus either.

However, Augustana officials understand if there is a need for students to obtain medical marijuana during their time on campus.

“We want to help with that process if it is a medical piece that is legal,” Blackburn said. “Every case is different, and we have to approach those cases when they come to fruition. […] We are always up for the conversation; we just can’t do it here on campus.”

Some students attending Augustana think this was an acceptable decision for the university to make considering all the factors.

“I think they [Augustana] made the best decision via all the pros and cons,” sophomore Soniel Ngnotchue said.

However, not all students see eye-to-eye on this.

“I can see why Augustana would put those rules in place because they are just trying to make it safe on campus,” sophomore Réka Nelson said. “I think that people should have the right to make their own decisions because we are adults.”

If students have any questions regarding the drug policy here on campus, they can contact the Dean of Students Office located in the Mortenson Center.