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Cannabis Policy FAQ

A Change In State Law

In June of 2019, the Illinois legislature passed Public Act 101-0027, which will legalize the use of cannabis in the state of Illinois in January of 2020. However, cannabis remains illegal under federal law. Moreover, Northwestern University complies with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, which requires a drug-free campus community. Therefore, Northwestern University prohibits the possession, use, manufacture, cultivation, dissemination, and storage of cannabis by students, faculty, staff, and visitors on all of Northwestern University’s campuses and properties and at University-sponsored events.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions to ensure that amidst this change in state law our community is aware of Northwestern’s expectations and policies related to cannabis possession and use.

Is cannabis allowed on campus?

No. Cannabis, even if legally obtained under state law, is prohibited from campus and at University-sponsored events and activities.

Is medical cannabis allowed on campus?

No. Even if obtained through a medical provider, cannabis is prohibited on campus and at University-sponsored events and activities.

Can I use cannabis if I am a student but live off-campus?

Cannabis is prohibited on campus and at University-sponsored events and activities. If you choose to use cannabis off-campus you are responsible for determining where and under what circumstances it is legal and safe to do so.

Does Amnesty Through Responsible action apply to cannabis use?

Yes. The wellbeing of our students is of primary importance. Northwestern’s Amnesty through Responsible Action protocol, which encourages individuals and organizations to take responsible steps to seek assistance for individuals who are intoxicated/impaired, applies to the use of cannabis, alcohol, and other drugs.

Can distributors advertise for their dispensary on campus?

No. Advertising is prohibited under the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.

If I live in university housing and have a medical cannabis prescription, can I move off campus?

Special accommodations are provided for students who qualify. To find out more about housing accommodations visit the Residential Services housing & dining accommodations request page.

What happens when a student violates Northwestern's policy on drugs and alcohol by possessing or using cannabis on campus?

Violations of Northwestern’s Policy on Drugs and Alcohol are referred to the Office of Community Standards for resolution through the University Hearing and Appeals System (UHAS).

I have more questions about policy. Where should I go?

Northwestern’s Alcohol and Other Drugs Resources website provides information regarding federal, state, and local laws. Additionally, the information in Northwestern’s Policy on Drugs and Alcohol provides information regarding the University’s expectations and response when those expectations are not met. Additionally, you may contact the Office of Community Standards at 847.491.4582 or email at

I want to talk to somebody about substance use. Who can I talk to?

Northwestern students have access to resources that can assist you in addressing substance use including Health Promotion and Wellness (HPaW) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

HPaW offers both self-guided online resources through eCheckUp To Go as well as non-clinical individual consultations and BASICS. If you wish to make an appointment, please call 847.491.2146 or email

CAPS offers brief individual psychotherapy which can also help connect you to more specialized resources in the community. To initiate this process, schedule an Initial Care Plan appointment. CAPS also offers Let’s Talk, an informal, friendly, and confidential consultation in various locations on campus. No topic is off-limits.