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Drug-Free Schools and Community Act Amendments of 1989

The University of Massachusetts, in accordance with both federal legislation and existing University policy, is committed to providing a drug-free, healthful and safe environment for all faculty, staff and students. 

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, Public Law 101-226, require that as a condition of receiving funds or any other form of financial assistance under any federal program, an institution of higher education adopt and implement a program to prevent the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students and employees.

The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance, and the unauthorized possession or use of alcoholic beverages on the University of Massachusetts Medical School campus or as part of any University activity or business off University premises is prohibited. If it is determined that a violation of this policy has occurred, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment, expulsion of students and referral for prosecution may result as deemed appropriate.

Applicable legal sanctions for the unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol are summarized in the following section.

The University recognizes alcohol and drug dependency as an illness and a major health problem. Alcohol is the number one drug problem in this country and on campuses. Drinking alcohol has acute effects on the body. It impairs judgment, vision, coordination and speech and often leads to dangerous risk-taking behavior, including drunken driving, injuries and serious accidents. Nearly half of all accidental deaths, suicides and homicides are alcohol-related. The misuse of alcohol is often involved in violent behavior, acquaintance rape, unintended pregnancies and the exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Long-term excessive drinking and drug use can lead to a wide variety of health problems in many different organ systems.

The use of drugs and alcohol can cause physical and psychological dependence and can interfere with memory, sensation and perception. Drugs impair the brain’s ability to synthesize information. Regular users of drugs develop tolerance and physical dependence often experienced by withdrawal symptoms. Psychological dependence occurs when the drug taking becomes central to the user’s life.

Students with substance abuse problems are encouraged to use the full range of educational and treatment services provided by the Student Health Service at 508-334-8464.

Summary of Legal Sanctions (Alcohol and Drug Abuse) Specific findings of alcohol impairments as identified by federal studies, have been compiled and distributed to all members of the campus community to meet the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. In addition to this policy, other University of Massachusetts policies which relate to inappropriate use of alcohol and drugs remain in force. (see Policy on Impaired Medical Students)

Local, state and federal laws make illegal use of drugs and alcohol serious crimes. Conviction can lead to imprisonment, fines and assigned community service. Courts do not modify life prison sentences in order for convicted persons to attend college or medical school or to continue in their jobs. A felony conviction for such an offense can prevent you from entering many fields of employment or professions.

Cities and towns in Massachusetts prohibit public consumption of alcohol and impose fines for violation. The Metropolitan District Commission also prohibits public consumption of alcohol in its parks.

Massachusetts laws prohibit sale or delivery of alcohol beverages to persons under 21 with a fine of up to $2,000 and six months imprisonment, or both.

Misrepresenting one’s age or falsifying an identification to obtain alcoholic beverages is punishable by a fine of $300. First conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol has a $1,000 fine, one-year revocation of driver’s license, up to two years in prison, and mandatory alcohol rehabilitation.

Massachusetts has criminal penalties for use of controlled substances, or drugs, with penalties varying with the type of drug. In general, narcotic and addictive drugs with a high potential for abuse have heavier penalties.

Possession of drugs is illegal without valid authorization. While penalties for possession are generally not as great as for manufacture and distribution or drugs, possession of a relatively large quantity may be considered distribution. Under both state and federal laws, penalties for possession, manufacture and distribution are much greater for second and subsequent convictions. Many laws dictate prison terms and the full minimum term must be served.

It is illegal in Massachusetts to be in a place where heroin is kept and to be “in the company” of a person known to possess heroin. Anyone in the presence of heroin at a private party or dormitory suite risks a serious drug conviction. Sale and possession of “drug paraphernalia” is illegal in Massachusetts.

Persons convicted of drug possession under state or federal law are ineligible for federal student grants and loans for up to one year after the first conviction, five years after the second; the penalty for distributing drugs is loss of benefits for five years after the first conviction, 10 years after the second, permanently after the third conviction.

Under federal law, distribution of drugs to persons under age 21 is punishable by twice the normal penalty with a mandatory one year in prison; a third conviction is punishable by mandatory life imprisonment. These penalties apply to distribution of drugs in or within 1,000 feet of a college or school. Federal law sets greatly heightened prison sentences for manufacture and distribution or drugs if death or serious injury results from use of the substance.

This content is current to the 2021-2022 Student Handbook.