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On January 1, 2014, it became legal in Colorado and Washington State for adults 21 and over to buy marijuana for non-medical use in communities that chose to implement the new law. Currently, 10 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana, with more likely to follow. Marijuana legalization presents particular challenges for colleges and universities because, regardless of state law, these institutions remain subject to the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, and the accompanying regulations that apply in the context of higher education.
|Judge Linda Cooke|
Boulder, Colorado, is home to the state’s flagship public institution – the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU). The City of Boulder opted to allow marijuana sales and production, with the first shop opening on February 18, 2014, about 1,000 feet north of campus. AACT, Boulder’s campus-community coalition addressing substance use issues, provided a much-needed forum for preparing for and monitoring the impacts of legal marijuana in Boulder and at CU. The Boulder experience can offer guidance for college communities as they grapple with legalization, whether actual or prospective.
During the fall of 2018, after a steady increase in the number of Minor in Possession of Marijuana cases filed, the Boulder Municipal Court saw its first decline in the number of citations issued since recreational marijuana was legalized in early 2014. While it is too early to draw any firm conclusions from this data, our community is hopeful that our strategies are proving beneficial.
Linda Cooke is the presiding judge of the Boulder Municipal Court. Her work as a judge has focused on alcohol and other drug issues within the university community of Boulder, Colorado, underscoring the importance of an environmental management approach and evidence-based sentencing and treatment. Alcohol and marijuana use and their impacts have been her primary areas of focus. Following legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Colorado, Judge Cooke has developed considerable policy expertise related to marijuana impacts, policy, regulation, and enforcement. This includes developing strategies specific to a community which houses a large university and demonstrates marijuana use by youth that is higher than the national average.
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