Update on Initiative 502

Update on Initiative 502 – Use and Possession of Marijuana

This message is being sent to all Faculty and Staff with approval from the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources

Dear UW employees,

As most of you undoubtedly know, effective December 6, 2012, State Initiative 502 (I-502) legalizes the possession of a small quantity of marijuana by those 21 and over in Washington state. I-502 also revises the laws regarding marijuana regulation and taxation, and the criminal and civil penalties for the production, distribution, and possession of marijuana.

However,  I-502 continues to make it unlawful for anyone, whatever their age, to open a package containing marijuana or consume marijuana in a public place.

Notwithstanding I-502’s passage, it is critically important for UW employees to understand that it is still a federal crime to possess and use even small amounts of marijuana on or in any University facilities or vehicles.

Further, as a recipient of federal funds, the UW must comply with the Safe & Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act which require that the UW maintain a drug-free campus. Failure to comply with federal laws and regulations on marijuana possession and use on campus jeopardizes the UW’s continued receipt of federal funds.

Accordingly, the passage of I-502 will not change the UW policies that prohibit the production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana on University property or during University-sponsored activities. Violating these policies may lead to sanctions under the applicable general code of conduct or the University rules relating to your particular employment status.

Also, under Federal regulations a number of University employees are subject to drug and alcohol testing because of the type of work they perform.

Testing positive for marijuana is a violation of these regulations and will remain grounds for employment sanctions including termination, even if the marijuana use occurred outside of work hours and otherwise in accordance with state law.

Visit http://www.uw.edu/admin/rules/policies/APS/13.07 to view the University’s Drug & Alcohol Abuse Policy.

The resources listed below are available to assist employees who feel that marijuana is causing problems either for themselves or their family members.


– UW CareLink, Faculty & Staff Assistance Program:


– Hall Health Mental Health: http://depts.washington.edu/hhpccweb

– Psychological Services and Training Center



– Washington Recovery Help Line: 866-789-1511 (available 24/7) or http://www.warecoveryhelpline.org


Cheryl Cameron, Vice Provost for Academic Personnel Mindy Kornberg, Vice President for UW Human Resources

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact uwhr@u.washington.edu

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