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Hold on dude, marijuana will still be illegal at UW and WSU

Federal laws against marijuana trump Washington's new pot legislation on college and university campuses. Possessing and using marijuana remains illegal at UW, WSU, and other institutions that receive federal funding. (AP/Richard M. Hackett photo)

College-age voters were among those who helped the state legalize possession of an ounce of marijuana for those over 21. But sorry dudes you can’t smoke or possess pot on campuses even after the law kicks in Thursday.

“On campus it will still be illegal to possess or consume any amount of marijuana,” says Norm Arkans, a spokesperson for the University of Washington.

Since the UW accepts federal funding, federal laws apply there. The feds frown on pot.

The UW will remain a drug-free campus that continues the no smoking policy in school buildings and dorms.

Arkans says the UW is sending an email notice to students reminding them they need to follow federal laws regarding marijuana use.

“There’s no question that students get here and find that you can have access to marijuana and experiment with it,” says Arkans, “but the drug of choice on a college campus is still alcohol and we’re more concerned about the abuse of alcohol.”

A national study finds one-third of Washington’s young adults ages 18 to 25 have used marijuana in the past year.

While the Seattle City Attorney has said police will no longer be going after people who use small amounts of marijuana, UW police will not look the other way.

They will continue to cite students for code of conduct violations. What’s at risk? Possibly losing federal student loans or scholarships.

Students who are caught with large amounts of marijuana could be expelled.

UW Police Commander Steve Rittereiser says they’ll have to change the way they handle pot possession or distribution crimes.

Normally a student would be prosecuted through King County. With the county relaxing its efforts to go after minor drug crimes, the UW will have to handle those cases.

A Washington State University spokesman says nothing will change in Pullman. In order to allow cannabis, WSU would have to reject federal funding and that’s not going to happen.

With hours to go before the new law takes effect, a member of the “No on 502” group has filed a lawsuit in Thurston County seeking to have the initiative voided.

A hearing on the lawsuit has been scheduled for Friday, just after the new law takes effect.

Pot proponents are planning to celebrate the new law with a “smoke-in” at Seattle Center.

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