By Derrick Stanley
Harvard students excited about the possibility of legal marijuana in Massachusetts, thanks to the vote on Question 4, may be disappointed to learn that pot will likely remain banned on campus even if the legalization measure passes.
Other universities have followed this path, due to their relationships with the federal government. Harvard is a private institution, but it receives millions of dollars from the federal government each year for research. The receipt of federal funding is contingent upon colleges and universities’ adherence to federal statutes, including the criminalization of marijuana.
According to Harvard Law School professor Charles R. Nesson, legalizing marijuana on a campus that receives federal funds could potentially jeopardize those funds.
“The operative question I think is whether this acts as an in terrorem effect,” Nesson said, referring to Harvard’s federal funding as a deterrent to permitting cannabis. “I just can’t imagine Harvard taking any step but the most conservative one: go the slowest, stay the closest to the ground.”
Other private colleges in the area, like Boston University, have said they have no plans to alter their current policies that ban pot on campus.