Marijuana Policy FAQ

Q: Now that it is legal in Massachusetts to use marijuana, why won’t Williams limit its policies against marijuana use and possession?

A: Williams has a longstanding policy against illicit drug use on campus and within the college community, and the federal government still considers marijuana to be an illicit drug. The college must abide by federal laws, including the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. If we fail to comply, the college could lose its eligibility for federal funding, including student financial aid programs.

Q: Now that it is legal in Massachusetts to use marijuana, shouldn’t I have the right to possess and use marijuana anywhere I want, including on campus?

A: Marijuana is still considered an illegal drug federally and it is prohibited for students entirely by our code of conduct.  This applies to students in both on- and off-campus housing, and it applies when students are engaged in college-sponsored activity away from campus. Also, it remains illegal—and against college policy—to send or receive marijuana products of any kind through the mail.

College policy also prohibits faculty, staff, guests, and visitors from using, possessing, distributing, or being under the influence of marijuana while on campus or during college activities.

In addition, smoking of any kind is not permitted anywhere in college buildings, including student rooms or within 25 feet of a college building.

The activation of fire alarms due to student smoking will be considered tampering, and the responsible students will be fined, per the written policy.

Q:  What is the relationship between federal laws that prohibit marijuana use and the Massachusetts Regulation and Taxation Marijuana Act?

A: Federals laws supersede state laws, and the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) outlaws the growth and use of marijuana, which is categorized as a Schedule 1 substance. THC pills, which are Schedule II substances, are also illegal. The Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act also prohibit the presence of marijuana on campus. 

Q: What if my off-campus landlord allows me to grow and use marijuana where I rent?

A: The Student Code of Conduct applies to all students and includes student who live off campus as well as students who are engaged in college-sponsored activity away from campus. The College holds students responsible if they fail to maintain good conduct on the campus or elsewhere.

Q: Can I use medical marijuana?

A: No. All marijuana is prohibited regardless of the intended use. Williams encourages students to utilize Health and Wellness Services regarding health concerns. You can also turn to them for support and education, including substance abuse education and counseling as well as general information on alcohol and other drugs.

Q: Does Williams’ policy on marijuana also apply to faculty, staff, guests, and visitors?

A: Yes.  Williams College policy also prohibits faculty, staff, guests, and visitors from using, possessing, distributing, or being under the influence of marijuana while on campus or during college activities.  

Q: What happens if I violate the marijuana policy?  

A: Violations of the Code of Conduct will result in response from the Office of the Dean of the College. Sanctions can range from warnings to disciplinary actions such as suspension and expulsion. See the sanctions rubric for more details about sanctioning.

It is important to note that the college has a medical amnesty policy: We recognize that there may be times when excessive drinking and/or drug use becomes a medical emergency. Under our amnesty policy, students who seek medical attention (for themselves or for someone else) due to such an emergency will not face disciplinary action as a result of their consumption or possession of alcohol or drugs.

See the Code of Conduct for more information about the alcohol policy, and about the college’s medical amnesty policy.