ITHACA, N.Y.—On April 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law what many thought should have been approved years ago: the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use in New York State. But even with the relaxed statutes, Ithaca College and Cornell University have both announced that they will maintain their campus bans, in accordance with federal law.

Both schools said they will continue their bans on campus possession and usage of cannabis, primarily because they would be risking millions in federal funding if they didn’t. Therefore, their campus anti-marijuana policies remain in effect.

“The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act both condition Cornell’s receipt of all federal funding—including support for research and student financial aid—on the university’s implementation of programs and policies to prohibit the use of any illegal drug,” read Cornell’s statement, signed by Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Joanne DeStefano.

The only acceptable usage, according to Cornell, is through DEA-licensed research practices.

The law, which has been pushed by progressive New York lawmakers for years, only applies to people over 21 years old, so it wouldn’t allow a significant portion of each school’s student body to legally possess and use cannabis anyway. But, moreover, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, even medicinally, and the schools still must adhere to those laws if they want to keep their access to federal funds open, according to their respective statements.

“Federal law prohibits all use, possession, and/or cultivation of marijuana at U.S. educational institutions,” said IC’s statement, posted to Intercom. “Federal law also requires any institution of higher education which receives federal funding to have policies in place which prohibit possession and use of marijuana on campus. We are an institution that receives federal funding and therefore these restrictions apply to us.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at