Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Clarifying Cannabis Policy

In July 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill that made possession of fewer than 10 grams of cannabis (marijuana) a civil offense. Individuals are subject to a ticket and a $100-$200 fine. Before this bill was enacted, possessing fewer than 10 grams of cannabis was a criminal offense and carried the potential for jail time and hefty fines. To be clear, Governor Rauner did not legalize the use of cannabis.

Since Governor Rauner decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, there has been some confusion regarding how this relates to cannabis use by NIU students. All NIU students are expected to comply with federal, state, and local laws, as well as the Student Code of Conduct; the Code of Conduct applies to all students, at all times, and while on and off campus. Cannabis is a substance that is illegal at both the federal and state level. Additionally, possession, use, and constructive possession of cannabis are violations of the Code of Conduct. If a student is found responsible for violating the Code of Conduct with regard to cannabis use, they will be subject to minimum sanctions including fines, probation, and other educational sanctions. Minimum sanctions are the consequences that adjudicators are required to impose for specific violations. Adjudicators may impose additional sanctions as they see fit, as long as the adjudicator can justify the sanction. You can view the minimum sanctions for cannabis and other violations here. It should also be noted that possession of cannabis is still illegal under federal law and may need to be reported as part of employment background checks.

Medical marijuana is allowed in Illinois for certain individuals. If an NIU student wishes to possess or use medical marijuana, they must follow the requirements under the law. Students who hold a valid compassionate use card for marijuana should contact the NIU Disability Resource Center for more information.


Chicago Tribune, retrieved Feb. 14, 2017 from

Time Magazine, retrieved Feb. 14, 2017 from