Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act
Effective January 1, 2020
The Illinois legislature in June passed Public Act 101-0027, which will permit the use of cannabis in the State of Illinois starting in January for adults aged 21 or older. However, cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and Northwestern University complies with the federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act, which require a drug-free campus community.
Therefore, we want to reaffirm that Northwestern University policy prohibits the possession, use, manufacture, cultivation, dissemination and storage of cannabis by students, faculty, staff and visitors on all of the University’s campuses and properties and at University events. This policy remains in effect as of Jan. 1, 2020 and beyond, despite the new state law.
Northwestern remains committed to creating a safe, healthy and secure environment for all students, faculty and staff. Should any faculty or staff member come to work under the influence of alcohol, cannabis or other prohibited drugs, the faculty or staff member may immediately be sent home, sent to a clinic for evaluation and/or placed on unpaid administrative leave. Individuals who violate the University’s Policy on Drugs and Alcohol are subject to corrective action, up to and including termination of employment. We also want to advise students that our policy has not changed.
In spite of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Illinois on January 1, 2020, Northwestern faculty and staff may not report to work impaired or possess or use controlled substances in the workplace. This prohibition applies to every Northwestern campus location. That means no one in our community may bring cannabis-related paraphernalia onto any campus, and no faculty, staff, or students may use or possess cannabis on any campus, under any circumstance, regardless of medicinal status. Furthermore, smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping, is prohibited in Northwestern University buildings and within 25 feet of building entrances, as well as in designated outdoor facilities.
Frequently Asked Questions for the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act
What is the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act?
Effective January 1, 2020, adults 21 years of age or older will be able to purchase cannabis (marijuana) for recreational use from licensed dispensaries across the state of Illinois.
How does the legalization of recreational cannabis change the workplace?
It doesn’t. A faculty or staff member cannot report to work impaired. Under the Drug-Free Workplace Act and as a federal contractor, Northwestern University must prohibit in the workplace the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of controlled substances, including cannabis, that are otherwise lawful under state law.
Can Northwestern University prohibit faculty and staff from using cannabis at work even though it is permissible under state law?
Yes. Like alcohol, tobacco and other controlled substances, the use of which may be permissible under state law, the use of marijuana is restricted by Northwestern University policies. The University will not permit the use of cannabis on University property. As a higher education institution, property owner, and recipient of federal funds, Northwestern not only has the authority, but the obligation to prohibit the use of cannabis on campus and at University events. Staff, faculty, students and visitors who violate University policies are subject to disciplinary and/or remedial action.
Can faculty and staff consume cannabis on rest or lunch breaks and then return to work?
No. Despite the legalization of recreational cannabis on January 1, 2020 in Illinois, faculty and staff may not report to work impaired or possess or use controlled substances in the workplace.
Are faculty and staff allowed to have cannabis-related paraphernalia in the workplace?
No. Faculty and staff are not allowed to have cannabis-related paraphernalia in the workplace.
Can I use medical cannabis at work?
No. Northwestern University does not allow faculty or staff to use or possess cannabis on campus under any circumstance, regardless of medicinal status.
If a faculty or staff member uses cannabis the night before on their own personal time at a non-work location, will that faculty or staff member be drug-tested once they report to work?
Should any faculty or staff come to work impaired or under the influence of cannabis, alcohol or drugs, that faculty or staff member may immediately be sent home, sent for an evaluation, and/or placed on leave. Faculty and staff who violate the University’s Policy on Drugs and Alcohol are subject to corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.
What if a faculty or staff member complains about another faculty or staff member's clothes or hair smelling of cannabis?
As with other scent-related complaints, faculty and staff may be asked to adhere to any scent-free or scent-sensitive workplace directive managed by the Office of Equity in conjunction with the Office of Human Resources and the School/unit leadership.
Does Northwestern University conduct random drug-testing of faculty and staff?
Generally, no, Northwestern does not currently conduct random drug-testing of faculty and staff. However, drug testing (either on a random or scheduled basis) is mandatory for certain positions, such as those that require the use of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and working with hospital records and patients.
Who can faculty and staff contact if they have additional questions about the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act?