To those who think that new laws concerning marijuana in the state of Colorado might be the reason for a higher applications at some schools, administrators are saying, “Think again.” Most enrollment offices are emphatic that Amendment 64 has no bearing on the number of applications they have received.
Yes there has been an increase in applications; 30% at Colorado College, for example. But Colorado state laws concerning use of marijuana on college campuses has not changed. No one under the age of 21 may use pot at all, and all college and university campuses are off-limits for pot usage. Federal financial aid could be withdrawn from students who are convicted for drug possession.
“I have a hard time believing that someone is going to make that kind of significant decision about investing in their education based on whether they can smoke marijuana in the state,” said Mike Hooker, spokesman for Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins. “There may be some water cooler talk about what effect Amendment 64 might have, but we believe there are more significant factors that drive enrollment decisions.”
Another possible reason that applications are increasing in Colorado is that the state has adopted the standardized online “Common Application,” an application that is accepted at many other colleges and universities as well. This makes the application process more streamlined and allows students to apply more easily to a larger number of schools.
High Times, the worlds most popular cannabis-themed periodical, says it will be difficult for schools to prove that Amendment 64 is not the impetus for rising applications when the National Student Clearinghouse reports that national college entrance requests have decreased in the last two years.
Part of that is a demographic change; there are fewer high school age people graduating and seeking college. The decline was seen mostly in private, for-profit colleges (like Colorado College), which dropped 9.7 percent. Public, four-year institutions saw a modest gain of 0.3 percent in enrollment.
Russ Belville of High Times says that when the Midwest sees a record-breaking decline in enrollment and the South is suffering a 2.5 % drop, but Colorado has increased 30%, one year after marijuana legalization, there is definitely a “bong-smoking elephant in the room”.
Colorado colleges and universities are worried. The national Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act overrides any and all state amendments as far as having pot on campus. None of the Colorado schools want to lose their federal funding, and they are making this clear to students by adding marijuana safety classes, anti-pot website inclusions, newsletter articles, and health related marijuana education. Also, students will be informed that future employers continue to have the right to test employees for drugs.
In addition, “Marijuana is also still prohibited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), even for athletes in Colorado of legal age.”