West Virginians planning to attend one of the state’s public community colleges could get free tuition through the West Virginia Invests free tuition program. But not if they consume cannabis.
At a recent meeting, the West Virginia Community and Technical College System board outlined the drug testing requirements for students applying for free tuition. Cannabis was among the drugs that students must test for to qualify for the program.
Students are Required to Pay for and Pass a Drug Test
Earlier this week, the board of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System reviewed policies connected to the state’s new West Virginia Invests free tuition program.
One of the key policies of that program includes mandatory drug testing. As reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, in order to qualify for the free tuition program, students must pay for and then pass a drug test. But it’s not just a one-time thing. In fact, students must complete this process before each semester in which they want free tuition.
As per the Gazette-Mail, the drug tests will reportedly cost students around $34. And students are required to pass the drug test within 60 days of the start of each semester.
This week’s board meeting was not about crafting, debating, or potentially amending any of the rules related to drug testing. Instead, the board simply listened to a presentation outlining how the drug testing program will work.
Notably, as explained in the meeting, the drug tests being required by the state include THC. As a result, students who consume weed will not be eligible for the free tuition program.
After this week’s meetings, the community college system is planning on rolling out the drug testing rules beginning this fall.
Cannabis in West Virginia
Interestingly, there was no public comment period and no legislator sign off on this current drug testing rule. But officials involved with the program told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that there could be opportunities to revisit and possibly revise these rules in the future.
For now, officials said they wanted to get the program up and running without delays. “It takes a while to change a policy,” Kathy Butler, a consultant working with the board, told the Gazette-Mail. “This makes it more pliable and workable for us. It’s probably going to be revised within a year.”
It is unclear at this time how students or the general public are reacting to the marijuana-testing requirement.
Officials indicated that there would be allowances for doctor-prescribed substances. This presumably would open the door for some protections for medical marijuana patients.
West Virginia has a relatively limited medical marijuana program. According to the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, the Medical Cannabis Act does not allow for smokable marijuana. Instead, qualifying patients can consume:
- cannabis pills,
- medical marijuana oils,
- Gels, creams, ointments, and dermal patches,
- and non-plant medical marijuana products that can be vaporized.
Smoking medical marijuana is not allowed in West Virginia. And while patients can vaporize certain medical marijuana products, they cannot vaporize “dry leaf or plant forms” of cannabis.