PACE offers ways to help members address new marijuana law

Oregon Ballot Measure 91 passed with 56 percent of the vote in November 2014, and takes effect July 1, 2015. The measure legalized recreational marijuana for those 21 and older, allowing adults to possess up to 8 ounces of "dried" marijuana and up to four plants. It also introduced mandatory regulation of the industry, which is still being debated in the Legislature.

Marijuana is still unlawful based on federal statute and is listed as a Schedule I drug (Title 21 CFR §1308.11(d)), meaning it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medicinal purpose and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision (21 USC §812(b)).

To receive federal funds, school districts and community colleges must adhere to federal laws. This includes maintaining a drug-free workplace. Even though state law allows persons 21 and over to carry up to 1 ounce in public, they cannot possess or use marijuana on campus.

Given this clash of state and federal laws, it is important for school entities in Oregon to understand their roles and responsibilities. With studies in Colorado and Connecticut indicating that nearly 40 percent of high school students have used marijuana, schools need to be prepared to handle this complex and challenging issue.

Here are three ways PACE can help:

  1. Understand your policies and update if needed. School districts must be certain to have drug policies in place. Additionally, OSBA is updating its sample policies to include language pertaining to marijuana use in e-cigarettes and vaporizers. Marijuana is not to be allowed on campus in any form, given districts’ tie to federal funding regulations. These policies are especially important for community colleges, now that recreational marijuana use is legal for persons 21 and older. Districts and community colleges may implement prevention programs at school for students, but also consider early intervention initiatives to help those students who are feeling trapped in the early stages of an addiction.
  2. Know your responsibilities as an employer. The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 gives employers the responsibility to enforce policies with their employees. This means that although an employee may use marijuana off campus, he/she is still subject to drug testing at any time.
  3. Attend our informational workshop. For an in-depth look at this topic, make sure to register for OSBA’s Summer Camp for School Boards. OSBA’s Spencer Lewis and Peggy Stock will hold a workshop, entitled “Up in Smoke: Marijuana in Schools, and Other Current Issues,” on Sunday, July 19, at 11 a.m.

Additional resources:

Please note that recreational marijuana use is still not legal in Oregon until July 1, 2015.