Students found to be in possession of marijuana on campus may be sent through student conduct rather than the legal system.
Ferris’ Department of Public Safety has teamed up with the housing department to educate rather than punish students for minor violations of state laws. Since the legalization of marijuana in the state of Michigan, the charges for a minor in possession of marijuana are similar to those of a minor in possession of alcohol.
“Officers have the discretion to write the ticket or not, even for first-time offenders,” capt. Gary Green 0f Ferris DPS said. “These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis depending upon the severity of the violation, and whether or not the officer and housing staff feel that education rather than court action would achieve the desired compliance.”
The change came as a result of DPS noticing the difference in how alcohol possession and marijuana possession were handled. Minors on campus found to be in possession of alcohol were sent through student conduct, however, minors on campus in possession of marijuana were sent through student conduct as well as the legal system.
“In an effort to be fair and equitable, we worked with housing to draft policies regarding marijuana, so they are similar to policies regarding alcohol, and encouraged our officers to treat both offenses the same,” Green said.
The housing department has the choice to call DPS or to handle the situation themselves. If called, DPS officers will take the severity of the violation and any prior incidents into consideration when making their decision.
Regardless of whether a student goes through the legal system or just student conduct, Ferris and DPS will keep a record of the incident. If contacted by an employer, police agency or any other body, the incident would be disclosed.
“Our officers are choosing to educate before sending students to court,” Green said.
So far, five students have been referred to student conduct for having marijuana on campus. One student was sent to student conduct as well as issued a fine. These numbers are likely to increase as the semester continues.
Even with DPS sending students through student conduct rather than the legal system, students should still follow Ferris’ policies regarding marijuana. Marijuana is prohibited on campus for all students, including those who meet the minimum age requirement and those who possess medical cards.