Following the state’s lead in decriminalizing marijuana, the University of Connecticut has taken the next step and knocked down the penalties on campus.

The plan approved by the Office of Community Standards will have university officials treat possession of marijuana the same as possession of alcohol. Instead of suspending students caught with small amounts of marijuana, students will receive a warning. Students still face expulsion for selling or possessing large amounts of the drug.

Student efforts to no longer require university employees to call police when small amounts of marijuana is found were unsuccessful.

“A vast majority of incidents at UConn involving marijuana involve small, decriminalized amounts, so it makes sense for Residential Life to handle these incidents internally and save the police time that could be better used stopping drunk drivers or other dangerous activities,” Bryan Flanaghan, a member of UConn’s student government, said in announcing the change.

Changes to how these students are handled has been very controversial. A recent student government meeting discussing the changes ended with overturned chairs and an argument that led to the police being called, reports UConn’s student newspaper.

Disciplinary standards for marijuana possession on campuses in Connecticut have remained largely untouched since this new law began. Possible sanctions for the possession or use of illegal drugs at other state colleges can still result in a student being suspended.

Mike Kirk, a university spokesman, said in an email the Office of Community Standards changed this policy months ago “to make them more on par with sanctions faced for underage drinking.”

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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