Marijuana won't have a place on CU campuses

Despite new law, CU president says no to pot

BOULDER, Colo. - When it becomes legal to possess marijuana in Colorado next month, you better think twice about taking it on campus.      

University of Colorado president Bruce Benson sent a strongly worded e-mail to alumni and parents of students Friday night restating marijuana will have no place on CU campuses statewide.

That drew immediate criticism from some who said by continuing a campus-wide ban, CU is ignoring the will of the people, who passed Amendment 64 legalizing marijuana back in November.           

But Benson said illicit drugs on campus could cost the university federal funding.

"We're going to move to ban marijuana on our campuses," said Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for Benson's office. "We believe it will threaten our federal funding."

In a letter sent to alumni Friday night, Benson said, "Marijuana threatens to cost the university nearly a billion dollars annually in federal revenue, money we can ill afford to lose."        

He went on to say, "...CU must comply with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which compels us to ban illicit drugs from campus."

Congressman Jared Polis, (D) Boulder, was immediately critical of Benson's statement.  Polis called the statement "alarmist" and "irresponsible" and said, "The University of Colorado is not in jeopardy of losing a single dime."

Benson also said CU has worked hard to fight the party school image, which he called vastly overstated.

In Boulder, the reputation of CU as a party school and a pot smoker's haven is wearing on some students.

"I would agree with the president of the university," said junior Daniel Pilger.  "I think that it does degrade our degree.  It's not something I want to be associated with."

"There's no reason people have to smoke in front of everyone," said sophomore Haley Woolf.  "Certainly they can find somewhere else to do it."

CU is not alone on this new issue.  Colorado State University said marijuana will likely not be allowed on its campuses.  CSU said it doesn't fit with its mission as an academic institution.