The medical marijuana industry might be coming to Prince George's County, but for University of Maryland students, marijuana prescriptions at the University Health Center won't be.
Holistic Industries, located in this county, received one of 15 pre-approved licenses from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to grow and process medical marijuana, according to an Aug. 15 news release. The commission reviewed 145 grower license applications, 124 processor license applications and 811 dispensary license applications and ranked the applicants to decide who should be awarded the licenses, according the commission's website. Holistic Industries was ranked at 14.
"I'm excited that we have a great number of outstanding companies willing to help sick people in Maryland," Dr. Paul Davies, Medical Cannabis Commission chairman, said in the release.
But even though medical marijuana will be growing close to the campus, students will not be able to reap any of the benefits. Prescribed marijuana "is prohibited under the University and Resident Life Drug policies, regardless of Maryland state laws permitting marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes," according to the Department of Resident Life's Community Living Handbook.
And these rules are not likely to change by the time distribution is ready in the state.
"Although state laws are changing over time, marijuana remains illegal under federal law," David McBride, health center director, wrote in an email. "As such, I don't anticipate prescribing medical marijuana from the University Health Center."
The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act is a federal regulation that requires any higher education institution receiving federal funding to implement programs preventing drug and alcohol use on its campus, according to the Higher Education Center for Alcohol Abuse and Violence Prevention.
"It creates barriers," said Owen O'Keefe, a senior community health major and president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy at this university. "There are students at other schools where the state has legalized marijuana, where they can't let their students who have prescriptions stay in student housing because of federal rules."
Accessing marijuana is an issue that the Residence Hall Association will be keeping an eye on, Vice President Sasha Galbreath wrote in an email.
"The Residence Hall Association is always here to represent the student body; so, if the tide of public opinion changes, and this federal regulation is overturned, we will certainly make it a priority to advocate for the voice of on-campus students concerning this issue," Galbreath wrote in an email.
Universities such as this one are prevented from changing their rules regarding students possessing marijuana on the campus — even if it is for medical reasons, or if recreational use is legal in the state — until federal law is changed.
"Students shouldn't not be able to have the traditional college experience just because their medication is more controversial," O'Keefe added.
Even with these new licenses, companies such as Holistic Industries still have a long way to go before it can even begin growing marijuana, Patrick Jameson, Medical Cannabis Commission's executive director, said in the news release.
"Now that the Commissioners have made their selections, the real work begins for these companies," he said.
This stage one license pre-approval allows applicants to begin submitting background and financial checks and will have a year to purchase real estate, have zoning approved and essentially set up their business, according to the news release.