CSUN’s police department formatted their daily crime logs last month to now list the smell of marijuana.
Incidents involving marijuana use have always been reported, but now federal law dictates the smell of marijuana must be reported as well, said Christina Villalobos, community relations officer for the CSUN police department.
“The change happened because we have to meet federal requirements through the Clery Act,” Villalobos said. “We’re in compliance.”
The Clery Act is a federal law that reports crimes that occur on or near a campus in the United States. Crimes can include alcohol, drug use and sexual assault.
Although it might appear that there’s a trend of heightened marijuana use over winter break, Villalobos said that isn’t the case.
“It may appear that there is an increase in marijuana use over the winter break, but it’s a perception because the reports we see now could include previous reports,” Villalobos said. “We would have to do statistics to find out which semester students have been using marijuana the most.”
According to university policy, “the manufacture, possession, distribution, sale, or use of alcohol, illicit drugs or drug-related paraphernalia and the misuse of legal pharmaceutical drugs on-campus or off-campus while on university business or participating in university sponsored functions is prohibited.”
The odor of marijuana itself, however, is not against the law.
“The smell of marijuana is not a crime, but I do make a report of it,” said Scott G. VanScoy, captain of the Patrol Operation Department of Public Service at CSUN.
Any student caught violating the university’s policy is guilty of a misdemeanor under Education Code 89031.
“Students should understand that the use of marijuana is a state crime, so police handle each situation differently,” VanScoy said. “Students are punished in different ways, but normally it’s through judicial referral (Student Affairs) or a citation.”
A student punished through judicial referral, which goes through Student Affairs, is at risk of suspension, expulsion, counseling or probation. If given a citation, the student may be arrested based on the severity of the criminal act.
Smoking marijuana for medical purposes is also prohibited, VanScoy said.
“It goes on your record, which could affect your loss of housing, inability to go to school and shows up on your educational record,” said Melissa Giles, associate director for Residential Life. “If they have a prescription for marijuana use, then find an off-campus apartment.”
“The distribution, growing, or selling of marijuana is a more serious problem,” Giles said. “This can affect your financial aid.”