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09/30/2014 12:55 pm ET

CU Boulder Posts Huge Drop In Pot Punishments

The University of Colorado at Boulder does not believe the drop in disciplinary cases relating to marijuana had anything to do with the new law legalizing recreational pot for citizens 21 years or older.

The number of students disciplined for drug violations dropped from 1,145 to 588 between 2012 and 2013, according to the Daily Camera. Voters in Colorado approved Amendment 64 in November 2012, creating a new state law to legalize recreational use of marijuana. It did not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2014.

In that interim period of 2013, according to the CU Boulder annual Clery crime report released this month, the number of students receiving disciplinary referrals for drug violations crashed to 588, from reaching 1,319 in 2011. But university officials do not believe students were necessarily avoiding sanctions because they were patiently awaiting legal weed at the beginning of 2014.

"First of all, most of our on-campus contacts involve our on-campus residents living in the residence halls," CU Boulder spokesperson Ryan Huff told The Huffington Post. "Nearly all of them are freshmen under the age of 21. Amendment 64 didn't change any criminal laws as it pertains to those under the age of 21. Furthermore, marijuana is illegal on campus, per campus policy. So nothing has changed with our policies or criminal enforcement for those under the age of 21."

Huff said the drop in student discipline cases due to a "new approach" disciplinary matters.

"We have found it to be more effective to provide education to students on first-time offenses rather than punitive discipline from the start," Huff said. "We are also doing a better job in freshmen Orientation of educating students about marijuana and drug laws and policies. We think this is especially helpful for our out-of-state students who may not be clear on Colorado’s marijuana laws."

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