Police see increase in marijuana use on campus

Of the 286 drug incidents reported between July 30, 2012 and Feb. 5, 2016, 96 percent have involved marijuana use, according to data provided by the Central Michigan University Police Department. 

The data does not include reports of incidents involving alcohol.

Lt. Cameron Wassman of CMUPD said he has seen an increase in marijuana wax and prescription drugs during the last few years. Prescription drugs were involved in 3 percent of drug incidents over the last three-and-a-half years.

Most incidents happen when a resident or staff member in a dorm reports the smell of marijuana coming from a particular room. Police arrive and confront the suspect and collect evidence of drug use. 

Most cases are then forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct.

“That’s mostly how we find the drugs,” Wassman said. “We have the discretion as to whether we want to charge criminally, or put them through the OSC.”

Wassman said police will refer incidents to the Isabella County Prosecutor if a large amount of drugs is involved, or the suspect is uncooperative.

Two 18-year-old students in Cobb Hall were referred to the prosecutor this semester after 20 grams of marijuana was found in one of their residence hall rooms. Possession of marijuana in Michigan comes with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

Wassman says he has also seen more medical marijuana cards, but that marijuana possession is still banned on campus.

“It’s still illegal, and it’s still a big deal,” he said.

Mitchell Brown, a sophomore from Lainsburg and the secretary of Student Advocates for the Medical and Responsible use of Cannabis, said he was reported to police his freshman year when another student smelled marijuana from his room. Brown has a prescription for marijuana to treat pain caused by migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. Since he is not allowed to store marijuana on campus, Brown keeps it at a friend’s house.

“I’m not trying to be on the campus” radar, he said. Brown added that the odor of marijuana tends to stick to clothes, however.

Brown has never been fined or caught using marijuana illegally, but he has been questioned by police.

"We pay them $20,000 to watch us like Big Brother,” Brown said. “They’re just causing more trouble for themselves and more trouble for the students.”   

Wassman disagreed with Brown. 

“Obviously our job is to keep members of CMU safe,” he said. "Enforcing current drug laws is only a part of what we do.”