University Guidelines on Marijuana Use at Montana Tech
University Guidelines on Marijuana Use

University Guidelines on Marijuana Use

As of January 1, 2021, Montana state law allows certain marijuana-related activities, such as limited recreational use and possession. However, the newly passed law expressly prohibits the “possession or consumption of marijuana or possession of marijuana paraphernalia” … “on the grounds of any property owned or leased by a school district, a public or private preschool, school, or post-secondary school as defined in 20-5-402.” See § 16(1)(g)(i), MCA.

As an educational institution that receives federal funds, Montana Tech must comply with the federal Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act. Compliance with these federal acts requires us to prohibit the use, possession, and distribution of all federally controlled substances, including marijuana. Consequently, such activity will remain prohibited by university policy and the Montana Tech Code of Student Conduct. Montana Tech policy prohibits students, employees, and visitors from possessing, using, or distributing marijuana in any form on either campus or any facilities, including in the residence halls and during any on or off-campus university activity. 

These policies can be found in the Montana Technological University Student Handbook, Faculty/Staff Handbook, and Residence Life Handbook. If you have any questions about the new laws in Montana or any other topic as it relates to Montana Tech’s alcohol and drug policy, please do not hesitate to email me at

MTU students and employees should understand that possessing, using or selling marijuana in any form is prohibited on campus and during University activities. I-190 legalizes certain activities related to marijuana under Montana law, yet I-190 specifically authorizes the University – as a school and an employer – to prohibit the possession and use of marijuana on University property.

In addition, although I-190 passed in Montana, the possession and use of marijuana is still prohibited under federal law. As a federally controlled substance, the use and possession of marijuana on campus is prohibited by MTU policy and the MTU Student Conduct Code.

Use and Possession of Marijuana is Prohibited on Campus

Montana law may allow certain marijuana related activities, such as limited medical marijuana use and other recreational use and possession. However, using and possessing marijuana in any form remains a crime under federal law. At the federal level, the Controlled Substances Act criminalizes the growing and use of marijuana, and it is well settled that federal enforcement agencies can prosecute users and growers of marijuana. As a controlled substance, use and possession of marijuana is also prohibited by the Student Conduct Code and is not permitted on campus. In addition to being a federal offense under the act, the use of medical marijuana in the workplace and on campus is restricted by federal laws, such as the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act and the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Those federal laws require the University to prohibit the use of marijuana on campus.

MTU Students

Using or possessing marijuana in any form, including without limitation tinctures, edibles and topicals, is prohibited by the MTU Student Conduct Code, and students who use or possess marijuana are subject to discipline. Marijuana use or possession is prohibited across the entire campus, including all open areas and buildings, such as the residence and dining halls. MTU is not required to allow – and in fact is subject to affirmative obligations to prohibit — the medical or recreational use of marijuana in the residence halls or on campus, because marijuana is illegal under federal law. The Montana Technological University will continue to enforce the campus-wide prohibition of marijuana.

Health Resources

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. Like other “recreational use” drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, using marijuana has health and other risks.  If you currently use, or are considering using marijuana, it’s important that you are aware of some facts about the drug.

What factors about marijuana use should MTU students be aware of?

  • It is legal for Montana residents 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Out of state residents can only legally purchase and possess up to 1/4 ounce.
  • If you are 21, it is legal to use marijuana within your home or on your property, but NOT in public, or in public view. Check your lease before using – this may or may not be allowed. You are also allowed to grow six plants (only three mature), but NOT in multi-family units like apartment complexes.
  • It is illegal to sell or transfer marijuana to persons under the age of 21.
  • As a controlled substance, use and possession of marijuana is also prohibited by the Student Conduct Code and is not permitted on campus, and students who use,possess, or transfer marijuana are subject to discipline

How does marijuana use affect my brain?

The active chemicals in marijuana can overstimulate and negatively affect the parts of the brain responsible for memory, thinking, concentration, coordination, balance, reaction time, and sensory and time perception (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012).  Sometimes, the brain becomes so overstimulated that the user can lose touch with reality.

Can marijuana use affect my mental health?

Research shows a consistent link between marijuana use and depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and attempts, psychosis (mental illnesses, short or long term, that cause hallucinations and delusions), and schizophrenia and personality disturbances, including anti-social behavior. For those with existing mental health conditions, marijuana will often worsen their condition; if mood disorders are being treated with medications, effects are, at best, canceled out or sometimes produce unpredictable reactions.

Can marijuana affect my driving?

Marijuana affects the parts of the brain that control depth perception, motor coordination, and reaction time, much like alcohol.  If law enforcement suspects you are high while driving, you will be asked to provide a blood sample at the nearest emergency room.  Mixing marijuana and alcohol intensifies the effects of both and can pose serious risks.

Are there other ways marijuana can affect me physically?

Effects on Natural Defenses: Marijuana suppresses the gag reflex and nausea, and can be dangerous when mixed with alcohol.  The body’s natural defense mechanisms are suppressed, which can cause someone to drink to fatal levels.

Effects on the Heart: Marijuana can dangerously increase heart rate.  A 2001 study noted the risk of heart attack onset was increased almost five times over baseline in the 60 minutes after marijuana use (Mittleman, M. A. et al., 2001).

Effects on the Lungs: Marijuana smoke can cause lung irritation, coughing, and respiratory illness much like tobacco.  One joint can equal 5 to 7 cigarettes because it’s unfiltered, and the smoke is pulled in much deeper and held in much longer.

Effects on Sexual Health: Heavy, long-term use of marijuana decreases testosterone levels in males, which can delay development of secondary sex characteristics for males, such as muscle-mass and “filling out”, lead to a decreased libido, impotence, decreased sperm count and motility, and infertility (UpToDate, 2013). It has also been linked to testicular and penile cancer.

Effects on Sleep: Marijuana use can decrease your quality of sleep, and as a result, your quality of life. Without quality sleep you can experience memory impairment, unpleasant moods, immune system impairment and many other physical deficits.

Effects on Weight Gain: Studies have shown that cannabis triggers an increase in appetite, commonly called “the munchies.” This desire for sweet and fatty foods can promote weight gain, if not balanced with a healthy diet and exercise plan. People who smoke marijuana regularly have been shown to gain weight over time.

Is marijuana addictive?

Long-term heavy use of marijuana, especially in people who start at a young age, can lead to addiction.  Withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, anxiety, and cravings. It takes far longer to experience the initial withdrawal symptoms, with the total detox time being anywhere from several weeks to almost a year, depending on age of onset, frequency and amounts/concentrations of use. This is very different than the withdrawals and detoxing associated with alcohol, other drugs or tobacco.

Is vaporizing less harmful than smoking?

Vaporizers heat marijuana to a point, but are not combusting, so that the chemicals can be inhaled while exposing the user to fewer toxins (Marijuana Legalization, 2012).  Smoking through water pipes (bongs) cools the smoke and filter out some particulates; vaporizing (vapes) heat the product to release the volatile oils without combustion.  These are considered “cleaner”, with lower smoke temps and less particulates, all of which allows for higher-efficiency delivery.  More research is needed on how vaporizing affects the body.

How are edibles different than smoking?

Marijuana-infused products (edibles) come in many forms – mints, candy, baked goods, even sodas.  The THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – one of the active substances in marijuana) concentration can vary widely, and product labeling only provides a rough estimate.  While a user can feel the effects of smoking pot within a minute or so, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours with edibles.  The “high” typically tends to last longer with edibles.

What is “dabbing”

“Dabbing” means using very potent, concentrated forms of marijuana hash oil.  It comes in other forms besides oil, including shatter (thin, hard, shiny brown slabs), and wax (sometimes called earwax or budder).  THC content ranges from 70-90 percent and may increase the risk of panic attacks, anxiety, psychosis, and other mental health conditions.

Are there medical benefits of marijuana?

The FDA has approved Marinol and Cesamet, synthetic forms of marijuana’s active substance in pill form, as treatments for nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and an appetite stimulant, symptoms often associated with cancer and HIV/AIDS. Marijuana is also useful in treating the symptoms of glaucoma by decreasing intraocular pressure.  CBD has some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and researchers are working on extracting it to make a medication for pain control.

The copy on this page was taken and amended from Colorado State University’s website.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers a wealth of information about the effects, addictiveness, and treatment of marijuana abuse.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy coordinates national prevention, education, and treatment efforts.

Facts on Tap provides training, technical support, and educational resources to students and professionals around alcohol and drug abuse.


A person under 21 years of age may not be charged or prosecuted under subsection (1) if: i. the person has consumed an intoxicating substance and seeks medical treatment at a health care facility or contacts law enforcement personnel or an emergency medical service provider for the purpose of seeking medical treatment; ii. the person accompanies another person under 21 years of age who has consumed an intoxicating substance and seeks medical treatment at a health care facility or contacts law enforcement personnel or an emergency medical service provider for the purpose of seeking medical treatment for the other person; or iii. the person requires medical treatment as a result of consuming an intoxicating substance and evidence of a violation of this section is obtained during the course of seeking or receiving medical treatment.