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Cannabis Decriminalization

More than half of the states in the US have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and more than one-third have legalized small amounts of cannabis for recreational use by adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, marijuana (cannabis) remains a Schedule 1 illegal substance under federal law. When the Governor of New Jersey enacted new legislation in February 2021 (the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement, and Marketplace Modernization Act), Rutgers University convened a Task Force to consider the implications of this decriminalization act for the University Community. The Task Force has now released its 73-page Rutgers Cannabis Decriminalization Impact Task Force Report.

The Task Force Report notes that the New Jersey Acts clearly states that cannabis remains prohibited on the property and buildings of all public and private institutions of higher education and their related entities. This, along with restrictions related to receiving federal grants, means that Rutgers University has a legal obligation to prohibit cannabis on University campuses and at University events. As a result, the Task Force has reviewed a number of University policies related to students, employees, and other relevant issues, such as sponsorships and advertising in University communication materials. The report includes recommendations for revisions where they determined changes were needed.

In addition, the Task Force recommended increased training, education, and support services for students, faculty, and staff. Their recommendations include outreach activities at student orientation sessions, training for supervisors in addressing situations where an employee’s work may be impaired by substance use, and an increase in substance use counseling resources through the Employee Assistance Program.