Paul Aiken / Colorado Daily
Blake Cassetta, left and Sean Hoffman, both of Colorado Springs take a hit on marijuana cigarettes in the Norlin Quad at the start of 4&fras1;20 celebrations on the CU Boulder campus on Tuesday April 20, 2010.

The University of Colorado wants its incoming students to know: Smoke the wrong plant or ingest the wrong fermented liquid and you could find yourself running afoul of the law with several sobering consequences.

Marijuana

Although Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 to the state constitution in 2012 regulating cannabis use like alcohol, there are still grey areas and caveats regarding smoking or ingesting weed in Boulder and on campus.

It is legal for a Colorado resident over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use and to give other people over the age of 21 up to an ounce of marijuana. People older than 21 may also legally grow, process and transport up to six marijuana plants, with some restrictions.

In Colorado, it is absolutely still illegal for those under 21 to possess or use marijuana, and, federally, marijuana is still illegal for anyone to use and is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Because CU is covered under the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, the campus or institution could lose federal funding if it did not prohibit federally illegal drugs such as marijuana.

“There can be a misguided perception, especially from out-of-state students, that Amendment 64 allows marijuana use anywhere by anyone,” CU spokesman Ryan Huff said via email. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, for those under the age of 21, Amendment 64 changed nothing in regard to drug laws.”

Even for those over the age of 21, marijuana use in Colorado is legal only in a private domicile if allowed by a landlord’s lease, but not in public and definitely not on the CU campus.

Weed is prohibited in the residence halls and in any university building.

If a student is found with weed on campus, he or she could face sanctions and penalties under the CU Student Code of Conduct, including a letter home to parents or being kicked out of the university after a due process review of conduct violations.

For students under 21, being caught anywhere in possession of marijuana likely means a court case, and, with it, fees and fines.

For a first-time Minor in Possession with no criminal history, it likely means a $50 court fee and a alcohol/drug classes paid for out of pocket plus possible attorney’s fees.

A conviction in a drug-related case could affect a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, according to the city of Boulder website.

While research is still emerging on long-term marijuana use, common sense suggests too much of anything can be a bad thing.

CU officials echo the National Institute of Health in warning that frequent marijuana users can get addicted to the substance, resulting in withdrawal without the drug and affecting the ability to retain and learn information.

People who have a personal or family history of psychosis and who use marijuana may have an increased risk of psychiatric decompensation, according to the university’s website. Driving under the impairment of marijuana is not safe and the NIH recommends waiting at least four hours after use before a driver considers getting behind the wheel.

For those who may be struggling with a marijuana addiction or other substance abuse issues, all students are eligible to receive up to six free individual counseling sessions. There is also Oasis, a student group exploring sobriety as a lifestyle that meets on Fridays at 3 p.m. in the University Memorial Center in room 102.

Alcohol

The consequences for students under the age of 21 consuming alcohol are almost the same for those caught with marijuana: They could face court fines and be required to attend an alcohol class at their own expense.

An MIP offense for alcohol also comes with an Office of Student Conduct referral.

According to the National Institute of Health, the college atmosphere can lead to students even over the age of 21 to drink to excess, or binge drink. Drinking itself is rarely the problem, the NIH notes, but instead binge drinking can lead to other issues.

Consuming too much alcohol can put a student at risk for alcohol poisoning. If a drinker has passed out and can’t be awakened or is confused, vomiting, experiencing seizures, breathing too slowly or irregularly, has pale or blue-tinged skin and a low body temperature, the Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor immediately.

Developing a dependence on alcohol can affect a student’s academic performance and, consequently, their scholarships, housing or other financial aid. About a quarter of college students surveyed by NIH said drinking affected their academic performance, including missing classes or important exams.

To address these issues, CU requires incoming students to take an online course about responsible drinking called Alcohol-Wise, and the Community Health peer-led program The After Party allows students to talk about their experiences with alcohol dependence.

Follow Karen Antonacci: twitter.com/ktonacci

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