Students Disciplined For Applying Health-related Marijuana Are Suing Colleges

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Colleges are becoming a battleground in the conflict involving federal and state marijuana laws as students who use healthcare pot challenge decades-old campus drug policies.

In states
exactly where healthcare marijuana is legal, students disciplined for utilizing it are
taking their schools to court. College officials argue they could shed
federal funding for failing to adhere to federal law that labels cannabis
an illegal drug with no accepted healthcare use.

Sheida Assar stated
she was expelled from GateWay Neighborhood College in Phoenix final month
for violating the school’s drug policy soon after she tested good for
marijuana, which she utilizes to treat chronic discomfort from polycystic ovary
syndrome.

She was studying diagnostic healthcare sonography, Assar
stated, and an instructor had told her she wouldn’t have any troubles if
she presented her Arizona healthcare marijuana card. She ordinarily utilizes
marijuana to assistance her sleep and had under no circumstances been below the influence in
class, she stated.

“They yanked me out of class in the middle of the
college day,” stated Assar, 31, of Chandler, Arizona. “They escorted me to
the administration like I was a … criminal. It is discrimination, and
it also violates my rights below the Arizona healthcare marijuana law.”

The
legal challenges are coming from students studying nursing and other
healthcare specialties who, below college policies, will have to undergo drug
testing.

Assar and other students say they received approval to
use healthcare marijuana from college personnel who serve students with
overall health-associated desires — only to face discipline from larger-ranking
college officials.

Assar stated she intends to sue GateWay to recoup
the $two,000 she spent on tuition and other educational expenditures and seek
extra funds in damages. Her lawyer currently has been in speak to with the
college, she stated.

A GateWay spokeswoman, Christine Lambrakis, stated
that she could not confirm Assar’s status at the college and that the
college continues to prohibit marijuana use.

Asked about an
Arizona Supreme Court ruling final year that overturned a 2012 state law
that produced possession or use of marijuana on college campuses a crime,
Lambrakis stated the college is in the approach of reviewing its policies
and will not alter them in the meantime.

Thirty-3 states and
Washington, D.C., permit healthcare marijuana, and 11 states and Washington,
D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana, making clashes with
federal law that have been playing out in courts, mainly in employment
instances that have had mixed benefits for healthcare pot.

There do not
seem to be efforts by recreational marijuana customers to challenge
college drug policies, observers say. That is most likely mainly because states limit
recreational use to men and women 21 and older, excluding most college
students, and mainly because there haven’t been thriving legal challenges to
campus alcohol policies even although state laws permit men and women 21 and more than
to drink, they say.

States with healthcare marijuana laws permit use
by men and women 18 years or older with a doctor’s recommendation, as properly as
by minors if their parents approve.

Connecticut nursing student
Kathryn Magner sued Sacred Heart University final month soon after she tested
good for marijuana and was barred from attending necessary clinical
healthcare rounds, according to her lawsuit. She had begun utilizing marijuana
legally in her property state of Massachusetts more than the summer season to treat
situations that had been not disclosed in legal documents.

Connecticut
law makes it possible for healthcare marijuana and forbids public and private colleges
from discriminating against students who use it. A judge cited the
state’s law in ordering that Magner, 22, from Marlborough,
Massachusetts, be permitted to return to the healthcare rounds. The lawsuit
was settled below undisclosed terms.

Just before the settlement, she
stopped utilizing marijuana, passed a drug screening and obtained approval
to use healthcare pot from the Fairfield school’s Workplace of Student
Accessibility to attempt to salvage her nursing profession, her lawsuit stated.
But nursing college officials wouldn’t budge, her lawsuit stated.

“Many
schools disability solutions offices are not universally listened to by
the university,” stated Michael Thad Allen, an lawyer for Magner. “It
just shows that these sorts of difficulties will grow to be extra popular if
employers and schools do not abide by the law.”

Sacred Heart
calls for students to “obey the law at all occasions,” but it treats healthcare
marijuana like other disability-associated requests and “seeks to give
affordable accommodation below the law,” college officials stated in a
statement.

In Florida, Kaitlin McKeon, of Naples, is suing Nova
Southeastern University for expelling her from its nursing plan in
Fort Myers final year soon after she tested good for marijuana. She has a
state healthcare marijuana card to take the drug for various situations.

McKeon
also stated college officials told her there would be no dilemma with her
use of healthcare marijuana below the provisions of state law.

But
soon after she failed the drug test in January 2018, larger-ranking officials
moved to expel her, saying she violated the school’s drug policy, her
lawsuit says.

“It’s truly sad that Nova Southeastern … took
this stance on this concern and is truly stopping a truly very good, caring
individual from getting into the nursing field and living out her dream mainly because
she chose a medication that is legal in Florida but not 1 that they
recognize,” stated her lawyer, Michael Minardi.

Nova Southeastern officials stated they can’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuits have the prospective to set legal precedents on the use of healthcare marijuana at colleges.

In
the meantime, advocates say, universities can lighten penalties so
students do not face expulsion or suspension for legally utilizing healthcare
marijuana.

“Universities can proficiently decriminalize it, de-punish it and make it not anything they concentrate on,” stated Jared Moffat, campaigns coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group for pro-marijuana laws.

By Dave Collins



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