DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Cannabis legalization in Illinois

Cannabis legalization in Illinois: University policy to remain the same

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(DePaul University/Jamie Moncrief)
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois will be the 11th state to legalize the limited possession and recreational use of cannabis to state residents over the age of 21. While the state law is changing, the university policy on campus is not. 

While cannabis possession and use remains a crime under federal law, the possession, use and distribution of cannabis will remain prohibited on university grounds to students, employees and visiting members of the general public. Violation of federal laws, such as the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act, would place DePaul’s federal funding at risk. Anyone found in possession of cannabis will be in violation of university policy and, for students, the Code of Student Responsibility. 

“Public Safety’s role and enforcement will not change. We will continue to support Residential Education and the Dean of Students Office in responding to these issues,” says Bob Wachowski, director of Public Safety.

Students should also be aware of the prohibition of cannabis in surrounding states where they might travel. Any drug-related offense under federal or state law will render students ineligible to receive federal financial aid, including federal loans, grants and access to work study programs. 

DePaul is committed in its efforts to provide education, prevention and intervention on substance misuse as well as accommodation for disabilities. Any students seeking the use of cannabis for medical purposes should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities for assistance.  The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness also provides resources to the DePaul community. Support is provided to students and all disclosure is confidential. 

According to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, many people report using cannabis to cope with anxiety. 

“While someone with anxiety may feel immediate or short-term relief from cannabis use, the long-term effect may be detrimental,” says Katie Bellamy, the substance misuse prevention specialist in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. “Legitimate medical use requires a medical card, care of a doctor, and legal dispensing. I encourage people, even if they feel cannabis use is aiding in their anxiety, to consider coping from a holistic lens. If cannabis is the only means of coping, that is typically a sign more resources are needed.” 

Cannabis consumption can cause severe negative biological and psychological effects, such as psychosis and schizophrenia. Additionally, Bellamy says misuse can lead to a decline in motivation, feelings of isolation and poor impact on memory function. She shares that cannabis use disorder is stigmatized. 

“Students who struggle with their cannabis use seem to be even less empowered to speak out about their concerns,” she says. “As allies, we can help debunk the myth that cannabis isn’t addictive, encourage people to reach out for help and not peer pressure people into using.”

The Office of Health Promotion and Wellness offers many events such as screenings, weekly Collegiate Recovery Community meetings and peer-led workshops, such as Choices for Cannabis, which aim to educate on alcohol and cannabis use through reflection and discussion. 

“We will continue to educate students about the policy on campus as well as provide answers when possible about ways to practice harm reduction if they are choosing to use off campus,” Bellamy says. 

More information on intervention and support for cannabis use is available on the Student Affairs website