Substance Use

A Note About Washington State Initiative 502 (Marijuana Legalization)

A voter approved initiative (I-502) regarding the legalization of marijuana in Washington State took effect on December 6, 2012.  The passage of this law does not lessen the UW's obligation to uphold the federal law which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance.  As a recipient of federal funding, the University will continue to prohibit the use and/or possession of marijuana on campus, including all University-managed residence halls and apartments.

The current housing policy concerning drugs states: While in [University Housing]…[Persons] will not use, possess, possess with intent to deliver, deliver, manufacture, purchase, sell, share, distribute, transport, be under the influence of, or knowingly be in the presence of illegal drugs or controlled substances.  Note:  Possession of a medical marijuana license or prescription does not provide exemption from this policy.

Those suspected to be in violation of this policy will be documented and may face disciplinary action as outlined in the Residential Life Conduct Process.  Should you have further questions regarding this policy, you may contact the Residential Life Conduct Office at

HFS Policy Statement Regarding Substance Use in University Housing

HFS is committed to providing housing and dining services and a living environment that complements students’ academic and personal development. High-risk drinking, drug use (illegal use of controlled substances) and related behaviors are among the most significant issues negatively affecting the lives of college students today. The unlawful and/or unsafe use of alcohol or controlled substances by students within the housing environment is contradictory to the purpose of university housing and impedes the ability of the user or others to enjoy and live in an atmosphere free from unnecessary health, safety and environmental concerns.

Washington state law prohibits unlawful possession, use, distribution or manufacture of alcohol or controlled substances (as defined in chapter 69.50 RCW) on the UW campus. The Residential Life staff, including the Resident Directors and Resident Advisers, as well as the patrol from the UW Police Department, enforce the law and educate students about the risks associated with alcohol and drug use. These staff members are part of a comprehensive structure that addresses the influence of alcohol and drugs within campus housing. The structure exists to uphold the laws of the state of Washington and further the educational objectives of the UW. It is additionally informed by the 1996 Washington State Legislature policy statement regarding the use of alcohol and drugs in university-owned student housing programs, which reads:

“The state makes a substantial investment of finances and resources in students who are attending state institutions of higher education. In exchange, students are expected to actively pursue their education and contribute to an academic environment that is conducive to learning. Students who abuse liquor and drugs, however, are unable to make full use of this educational opportunity. More importantly, students who abuse liquor and drugs create an environment that interferes with the ability of other students to pursue their education. This is especially true in university-owned student housing where liquor and drug abuse contribute to noise, vandalism, theft and violence. While the universities and colleges may not be able to stop all liquor and drug abuse among student populations, the very least they can do is ensure that the vast majority of students without drug or liquor problems are provided with a living environment that is safe and conducive to the pursuit of higher education.” (1996 c17)

As a consequence of alcohol and drug policy violations, sanctions are assigned through the Residential Life Conduct Process. Possible sanctions include workshops, administrative transfer or termination of a student’s Housing Agreement. Failure to complete an assigned sanction may result in further sanctions, fees and/or a hold being placed on the student’s registration. While every conduct case is unique and is sanctioned accordingly, the accumulation of alcohol and/or drug violations will likely result in the termination of a student’s Housing Agreement and a referral to the UW Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct for further intervention.

It is important to note that while most alcohol and drug policies in UW housing are based on state laws, others extend beyond the requirements of the law to include policies that promote safety and students’ success during their campus living experience. For instance, students under the age of 21 may not be knowingly in the presence of alcohol while in UW housing. Additionally, behaviors exhibited in the residence halls that are the result of drug or alcohol use, whether the use was on or off campus, may be considered policy violations. For a complete list of campus housing policies and UW community standards, please refer to the Housing Agreement or you can view an extracted view of our Community Standards.