As of Jan. 1, 2020, marijuana was legalized in the state of Illinois, but it is still illegal on a federal level. For Blackburn students, this means the policy will not change on campus. In accordance with the Blackburn student handbook, the B-book, “Blackburn strictly prohibits the unlawful possession, use, or distribution of drugs and alcohol by students and employees on college property, or as a part of college activities. Unlawful is defined in accordance with local, state, and federal laws.” The full policy can be found on pages 28 and 62 of the B-book.
Because Blackburn receives federal funds, it is required to prohibit cannabis use or
possession. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, some schools can use their code of conduct to prohibit off-campus use of cannabis as well. According to the B-book, there are no restrictions on marijuana use off-campus, unless it’s a campus or work-related event. The book does state, however, that “If Campus Community and Safety or Residence Hall staff suspect a student to be in possession or under the influence of controlled substances, that suspicion will be documented.” The book goes on to say that if there are repeated and documented suspicions that a student is smoking or possesses marijuana on campus, the College reserves the right to complete room searches, have drug dogs search residence halls or parking lots or require a student to submit to a drug test.
The consequences of unlawful possession of drugs or alcohol on college property, at college activities or while working for Blackburn include a trial in front of the appropriate college officials or board and any penalties they deem necessary. Interim Associate Dean of Students Jarrod Gray said, “The Judiciary Committee is a trained group of five faculty and staff. Any appeals of Conduct Hearing Board decisions will be heard by the Provost.” The entire disciplinary process is located on pages 17 through 21 in the B-book.
Students also face the risk of losing their federal financial aid if they are caught using or possessing cannabis. Any college receiving federal funds is required to prohibit any drugs that are federally illegal, even if the state legalizes them. The same rule applies for students who receive federal funds for their tuition.
The B-book also states that anyone found selling or trafficking drugs will be fired and/or expelled from Blackburn, and they will be referred to local authorities. It is still illegal in Illinois to sell marijuana. In order for it to be legal, it has to be purchased from a dispensary. It is not legal for individuals to sell marijuana or buy it from a dealer.
If the campus safety or residence life staff catch a student smoking marijuana on campus, they will ask the student if they have been smoking. Department Manager of Campus Community and Safety Kaitlyn Mitchum said, “ When a student cooperates, it typically ends up better for them.” If the student denies that they’ve been smoking despite glossy eyes, the smell or the physical presence of the drug, the pro on call is called, and they will handle the situation after that. Sometimes a room search is completed. If the student cooperates, Mitchum said, the campus safety or residence life employee will ask for any drugs or paraphernalia, and they have a specific procedure on collecting illegal items. If the student was smoking off campus and has no drugs on them, they will be asked to change their clothes or take a shower, and they will be reminded of the policy of not coming back on campus smelling like marijuana.