Students each lunch Friday at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. Brian Hoza, the dean of student affairs, says students and staff continue to adapt to the legalization of marijuana for adults.

Photo by Scott Franz

Students each lunch Friday at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. Brian Hoza, the dean of student affairs, says students and staff continue to adapt to the legalization of marijuana for adults.

Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus adapting to new marijuana rules

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— It was an awkward moment when Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called Jan. 13 to a report of a Colorado Mountain College student who had marijuana in his dorm room.

Police confirmed the man had a medical marijuana card but didn't issue him any sort of summons because he wasn't violating city laws.

Still, the man was breaking the college's rule that forbids possessing marijuana on campus.

“The police are in a difficult spot. The college administrators are in a difficult spot,” said Brian Hoza, the dean of student affairs for CMC's Alpine Campus.

The campus penalties for marijuana possession can range from rehabilitation programs to suspension from college housing or expulsion.

The call about marijuana and the disconnect between the laws at the campus and the laws just down the street is just one of the situations the local college campus is adapting to after the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 and older in Colorado.

Hoza said some students who are legally old enough to possess it have in recent months have questioned the campus rules forbidding the drug.

They point to city and state laws as a reason it shouldn't be illegal at school.

“We definitely have that age range where students are impacted,” Hoza said. “The greatest confusion is some students do not understand we receive federal funding, such as financial aid and grants, and we are bound by federal laws, not state laws.”

For Hoza, the legalization of marijuana for adults is the latest societal shift he has seen in his education career that spans more than 30 years.

As a housing director at the University of Colorado in the 1980s, he watched as 18-year-old students had to adapt to new rules about alcohol that were more restrictive than the ones they had known.

He also has seen debates about such things as restricting visitor access to dorm rooms and whether students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

Through it all, Hoza said, the mission of the schools he has worked for has remained the same.

“The learning environment needs to be safe and secure, and people need to feel comfortable,” he said. “It's where they're learning, and they're learning things that become life habits.”

Colorado Mountain College has engaged with students about the issue of marijuana legalization in recent months using social media and in conversations with students.

Hoza said education about the rules is ongoing.

“There's kind of an attitude of pushback of not understanding if it's OK here, and why it's not OK in this space,” Hoza said. “Some students are trying to understand that. We have those kind of conversations all the time."

He said that for some, the “pressure to have more and use more has increased.”

“That's a challenge,” he said.

As the college continues to adapt to the societal shift, local substance abuse prevention groups and the new retail pot shops are speaking out and stressing responsibility in the new era of pot sales.

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition will focus its educational efforts on parents.

And Rocky Mountain Remedies, the first retail pot shop to open in Steamboat, has strict policies in place to prevent the sale of marijuana to minors.

“The owners and employees of RMR all are residents of the Yampa Valley,” co-owner Kevin Fisher recently wrote in a letter published in the Steamboat Today. “As our community’s fortunes go, so go ours.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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Comments

Scott Wedel 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Sounds like a terribly unpleasant place to live. They called the police because a student with a mj medical card was caught with mj?

They don't have house rules and deal with possible violations internally, but call the police? So if an under 21 student is suspected of consuming alcohol or is (horrors) caught with a drink then they also call the police?

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that campus security has surveillance video of students jaywalking which they review and turn over to SB police to give students tickets.

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jerry carlton 10 months, 4 weeks ago

$126 dollars of my property tax tax went to this college last year. I do not appreciate spending my money on a place for students to get stoned or drunk in their dormitory. Back in the day that was a cause for immediate expulsion. Shows what great strides we have made in this country in the last 50 years.

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Kevin Nerney 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Jerry, if they started to expel students for getting drunk and or stoned or both they wouldn't have any students at all and then how would you expect them to collect tuition and make money? Another question is why do they need to review the rules? Are the current laws not sufficient?

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bill schurman 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Jerry, I hate to break the bad news, but I suggest that more of your tax monies is being spent on other Colorado state-funded institutions of higher learning than just CMC where some students might get "stoned" and drunk in their dormitory. Bill

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jerry carlton 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I should have underlined "in their dormitory". That is the only place I expect the college administration to maintain any control over the students. Illegal behavior on the college campus should result in expulsion. I know you are correct Bill, but the dole to CMC is the only one spelled out that I have to look at once a year.

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Cresean Sterne 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Rules have always been the same at CMC. NO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS ON CAMPUS PERIOD. (Age makes no difference) Ever since the drinking age was changed in the 80's to 21 it has been this way at every college or university I know of. The rules are there before you enroll so there is no excuse. As far as Medical goes, it is a very grey area when it come to posession and will take time for any college just like employers to accept it. Some colleges, universities and many employers will most likely never allow possession. As far as consumption you best take it off campus if you want to remain enrolled in college. I wouldnt expect CMC to change its policy except for maybe possesion for medical card holders only,, and thats a stretch.

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jerry carlton 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Cresean Nice to see one other person not making excuses for this little stoner,

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Cresean Sterne 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Dont get me wrong. I dont have anything against the responsible use of alcohol or mj but is it worth rolling the dice with your education??? The now 43 year old me says no way but the young 18-21 year old me said why not roll the dice. Put weather stripping around the door and get a fan. Hang beer out the window on a rope. I got lucky..Some people I knew did not. We knew the rules and they havent changed. If your caught with possession at CMC, it is simply your fault and no one elses. You now get to go home and explain to your parents why you got kicked out of school

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