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The ordinance goes into effect in September of 2016.
On the Penn State University campus, University police must still follow federal and state laws that consider marijuana use and possession a misdemeanor. Also, the ordinance does not apply in Harris and College Township where State College Police also have jurisdiction.
Under the State College Borough ordinance, police can charge a person in possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana with a summary offense that carries a fine of $250. They can also charge a person caught using marijuana a summary offense that carries a fine of $350.
While the ordinance allows State College Police the flexibility to bring a lesser charge when possession occurs in the Borough, it does not legalize marijuana. Under Pennsylvania State Law, possession of a small amount of marijuana is illegal and can be charged as a misdemeanor. State College Police officers will still have the option to charge a student with a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. A convicted individual will also face driver’s license suspension, a criminal record and the risk of losing federal student aid.
In addition, the new ordinance does not cover paraphernalia, which still carries a misdemeanor charge. Paraphernalia can include any object used to ingest, store or use marijuana. Possession of drug paraphernalia is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Students using or possessing marijuana on- or off-campus are also subject to disciplinary sanctions from the Office of Student Conduct. Code of Conduct sanctions are separate from any legal charges and can be generated whether a student receives a summary offense, or state or federal charges.
Penn State Student Legal Services, a unit of Student Affairs, has posted FAQs on its website to provide students with more information on the ordinance. Penn State FAQs on Marijuana Ordinance