If you're a student 21 or older, you don't get a pass if caught using marijuana on campus. Nor can you smoke weed in the privacy of your dorm room. Marijuana, in all its forms, still violates school regulations at every Oregon college that receives federal funding.
"Universities, being federally funded, are obligated to follow federal regulations when it comes to treatment of controlled substances such as marijuana," said Kelly McIver, University of Oregon Police Department communications director. "Don't expect a big change, because marijuana will still be a no-no here on University of Oregon property, regardless of the age of a person."
But officers at Southeast Portland's Reed — whose president, John Kroger, is a former Oregon attorney general and federal prosecutor — will patrol dorms and ferret out weed.
Gary Granger, Reed's director of community safety, worries that some students will try to avoid detection by ingesting marijuana in food. Consumers age 21 or over can't buy edibles or concentrates in Oregon stores for now. But people can still cook legal or illegal pot into food, or find themselves eating marijuana-laced brownies, for example, at parties.
"Once you've ingested it, you're on a train you can't get off," Granger said. Eating too much, he said, can create a drug-induced psychosis. You will hallucinate, your heart will race, you can't feel your legs, you can't walk. You think you're going to die."
Reed has a 26-page "Alcohol and other drug policy," enacted in 1993 and repeatedly amended, that minutely details potential violations and repercussions. The policy outlines five response levels escalating from a dean's warning letter and invitations to discuss an incident or seek counseling all the way to a hearing before a college judicial board, which could recommend expulsion.
In their student handbooks, the University of Portland and other institutions could not be more clear in their stance toward Oregon's new law.
"Regardless of its status in the state of Oregon, or whether or not an individual possesses a prescription for medical uses, marijuana is banned from our community," the University of Portland handbook says. That ban extends off campus at the North Portland Catholic school, as it does at George Fox University, a Christian institution in Newberg.
Portland State University also bans pot possession or use, but only on school property, and on university-sponsored events or trips off-campus. Portland State recently followed Oregon State University and the University of Oregon in instituting a campus-wide smoking ban.
Oregon's marijuana law says that marijuana cannot be consumed in public places, including schools. But the clause concerning public places doesn't say whether "school" includes colleges and universities.
Leland Berger, one of the authors of the ballot measure that led to legal pot, said he hadn't noticed the discrepancy, which could be worth legislators fixing. But he noted it might not matter.
"As long as the federal government continues to irrationally demonize the use of cannabis by adults, it really is an academic hypothetical inquiry, rather than an actual problem," Berger said.
Oregon's new marijuana law also won't impact researchers on state campuses. For example, Oregon State University will continue to ban research that physically involves marijuana.
"We will not conduct research at OSU that engages in propagation, distribution or enhancement of marijuana or even of hemp," said Steve Clark, Oregon State vice president of university relations and marketing.
Industrial hemp is a non-intoxicating relative of marijuana grown for its sturdy fiber, which can be used in cloth, paper, rope and other consumer products Clark said banning hemp from research is controversial because advocates such as U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., say pot's cousin could be an economic boon to the state.
But academics do study pot's impacts on society and the economy. At Oregon State, Seth Crawford, a marijuana policy researcher, has worked outside of his paid job as a non-tenure-track instructor to assess the drug as a business.
Crawford sees southern Oregon as a hotbed for weed. He estimates the state grows three to five times the 150,000 pounds or so consumed annually by its pot users, pre-legalization. Pot could be Oregon's most valuable agricultural commodity, Crawford said.
At Oregon, researcher Ben Hansen focuses on the economics of risky behavior. He and his colleagues have found that states legalizing medical marijuana see declines in drunken-driving deaths and suicide, which he believes occur as some people substitute pot for riskier substances such as alcohol.
"While people who are high or drunk both exhibit physical impairment, it could be that people who are drunk take more risks, and people that are high actually take fewer," Hansen said. "Perhaps an even more likely scenario is that people using marijuana are at home instead of drunk at bars."
The distinction remains largely academic for Oregon college students. State law may have changed, but no one is allowed to possess or consume pot on campus.
They can lose eligibility to play if a random test by the National Collegiate Athletic Association reveals more than 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, per milliliter of urine. That threshold is so low that athletes can fail even if they have last consumed pot days or even weeks before.
Therefore an athlete 21 or over who had smoked a joint off-campus legally, under Oregon's new marijuana law, could get sidelined for test results.
Mark Rountree, Portland State University athletics director, said the school doesn't generally conduct its own tests of athletes unless a student behaves in a way that raises health health or safety concerns.
"If there's a positive result, we would want that student to engage in healthy practices, counseling, those sorts of things," Rountree said. Athletics staff members decide case-by-case whether or not to restrict such a player from sports, he said.
“If you choose to consume, please do so responsibly.”