Drug Policy


In accordance with the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, and as a Catholic, Jesuit institution, the Saint Joseph’s University alcohol and drug policies reinforce the University’s commitment to maintaining an environment that is dedicated to the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological development of all persons. This Drug Policy is guided by the care and concern for the individual person and the welfare of others. The Alcohol Policy can be found here.

Any University student found in violation of this Policy may be subject to University disciplinary sanctions, including, but not limited to: Warning, Program Attendance or Facilitation, Writing Assignment, Discretionary Sanctions, Loss of Privileges, Counseling Assessments/Educational Meetings, Fines, Restitution, Administrative Relocation in University Housing, Disciplinary Probation, Deferred Suspension, Removal from University Residence, Suspension, Expulsion, Revocation of Admission and/or Degree, Withholding Degree.


The use, possession, or distribution of illegal narcotics or other controlled substances except as expressly permitted by federal, state and/or local law, as well as the misuse of prescription drugs is prohibited and shall be referred to the Community Standards process. Drug paraphernalia may indicate illegal drug use, and possession may result in disciplinary action.

Use or possession of marijuana, including medical marijuana is strictly prohibited on campus. Any such use or possession is a violation of the Community Standards.

Examples of drug violations include, but are not limited to:

1. illegal or improper use, possession, cultivation, distribution, manufacture, or sale of any drug(s), including prescribed medications

2. illegal or improper use of solvents, aerosols, or propellants

3. administration or employment of drugs or intoxicants causing another person to become impaired without their knowledge


Although the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania permits the possession and controlled use of medical marijuana, the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. The Controlled Substances Act prohibits the use, possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana, even for medical purposes.

As a recipient of federal funding, the University is subject to the Controlled Substances Act, and must also comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug-Free Workplace Act, which require the University to maintain a drug-free campus and workplace. Therefore, the use and/or possession of marijuana is prohibited on any University property or at any University-sponsored programs/events. Students who violate the University’s alcohol and drug policies will be held accountable through the Community Standards process and will be subject to disciplinary sanctions.

Additional requirements, related to the use of controlled substances, exist for students who are considering pursuing certain healthcare-related careers and professional programs. As an example, students who wish to participate in clinical education coursework must submit a criminal background check annually. These students should be aware that a positive criminal background check could lead to an inability to participate with field experience sites, not graduating on time, dismissal from the program, and/or an inability to become licensed in some healthcare or healthcare-related professions. Students in these programs may also be subject to drug testing based on the employment policies of the clinical facilities. Students who have a positive drug screen or fail to comply with this policy may not be able to complete their experiential learning assignment. Please see the Drug Screen Policy for further details.


The University prohibits the unlawful manufacturing, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of a controlled substance on the University campus. Controlled substances may be appropriately used in a supervised classroom or research setting. Federal law requires compliance with this policy to maintain a person’s status with the University. The law also requires that the institution be notified of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace and/or a University-sponsored clerkship or traineeship site. Students must notify the Vice President of Student Life and their college dean within five days of any such conviction. The Vice President of Student Life will use discretion to notify academic programs on an individual basis.

Anyone so convicted must participate satisfactorily in an approved drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program to resume their status with the institution. The University’s Community Standards processes and Substance Use Disorder Policy outline additional information and requirements for disclosure and continued enrollment or employment.

In addition to any legal sanctions imposed in conjunction with the unlawful use of alcohol or controlled substances, violations of this policy will also be subject to appropriate internal action whether remedial, rehabilitative and/or disciplinary. If the offender is an employee, the appropriate action will be determined by the Supervisor and the Director of Human Resources. If the offender is a student, the case will be referred to the Vice President of Student Life and/or the Office of Community Standards for resolution.

Students who are required to participate in experiential education as part of their academic program may be required to complete a drug screen and provide documentation of a negative drug screen as a condition of participation in experiential learning. Students must sign a release to have this information reported to the assigned experiential learning site and the University. The type of drug screen required may vary depending upon each experiential site; therefore students should coordinate with their respective college’s experiential learning coordinator for more detailed information.

Students who have a positive drug screen or fail to comply with this policy may not be able to complete their experiential learning assignment. Students who test positive for drugs or fail to comply with this policy are responsible for any additional costs or delays in their experiential education that may result; this may include delayed progression in their program, a delay in graduation, and/or the inability to successfully complete their program. Any student who has a positive drug screen will be referred to the University Substance Use Disorder Policy.


This policy reflects the institution’s concern about any member of the University family who may be experiencing a problem with alcohol and/or drug use (referred to hereafter as substance use). The aim of the policy is to encourage and support the recovery of all members of the University community. The Substance Use Disorder Policy is initiated by the Vice President of Student Life (or designee) in conjunction with the college dean. The Vice President of Student Life or designee will assist the student in obtaining an evaluation from an independent clinical expert and coordinating any recommended aftercare program. The Vice President of Student Life (or designee) receives the evaluation as well as recommendations for treatment and aftercare services for policy participants and coordinates the treatment component of the policy. Clinical decisions regarding the diagnosis and treatment are made by external experts. Questions concerning the Substance Use Disorder Policy should be directed to the Vice President of Student Life at 610-660-1045.

The University recognizes that dependence upon any psychoactive substance is a debilitating condition that requires medical, psychological, and social assistance.

The University is committed to a comprehensive educational program to prevent substance abuse among its students and staff.

The University encourages the treatment and recovery of any person who seeks assistance or who has been identified as potentially having a substance use disorder by their college dean or the VP of Student Life. Assistance and referrals for treatment will be provided through the Vice President of Student Life or designee. The cost for any external evaluation and any related fees are the responsibility of the student.

The University will not perform random testing for drugs; however, drug screens may be required as a condition of participation in experiential education and/or our NCAA athletics program.

All matters relating to substance use and subsequent treatment will be confidential.

The University will support the continued enrollment or employment of any person provided they agree to undergo evaluation and, when necessary, treatment for a substance use disorder. In the event treatment is recommended, the person will be required to:

  • Enter a treatment program without delay*;
  • Complete the treatment program; and
  • Participate in an aftercare program

* Students enrolled in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program are required to enroll and actively participate in the Pennsylvania’s Physicians Health Program. The PHP holds the contract with the Department of State’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, Professional Health Monitoring Programs (PHMP) and provides assessment, treatment, and monitoring services with those holding
health care licenses, including medical and pharmacy students.

The University will not support continued enrollment or employment of anyone found responsible or guilty through conduct action or legal prosecution of:

  • Illegal possession of controlled substances with intent to divert or distribute
  • Stealing controlled substances

All decisions regarding individual treatment and aftercare will:

  • Be made by an outside independent organization in consultation with the student
  • Be in accordance with the student’s ability to participate successfully in these programs
  • The facility that will provide an evaluation and treatment plan must be approved by the University.
  • The University reserves the right to dismiss a student who fails to comply with the terms of the Substance Use Disorder Policy. In such matters, the decision for dismissal will be referred to the college dean by the Vice President of Student Life.


The welfare of each person in the Saint Joseph’s University community is paramount, and SJU encourages students to act as bystanders and offer help and assistance to others in need. Because the University understands that fear of disciplinary action may deter requests for emergency assistance, this statement was created to alleviate such concerns and reduce hesitation by SJU students to seek help. Students are expected to immediately report conduct or activity which poses a danger to the community or its members. For example, all students are expected to seek appropriate assistance for themselves or others in situations where help is needed to ensure proper care of a person who is significantly intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Students should not hesitate to seek help because of fear of disciplinary action.

In most circumstances, the help seeker and the student in need will not be charged with a policy violation through the University’s Community Standards process. In good faith reports regarding sexual harassment, hazing, or retaliation of the aforementioned, witness(es) and complainant(s)/victim(s) will not be charged with policy violations through the University’s Community Standards process for personal use of alcohol or drugs which are disclosed in the report.

Although students may be required to meet with a University official regarding the incident, Saint Joseph’s University will support and encourage this behavior by treating it as a health and safety matter, not as a disciplinary incident. In rare circumstances, such as cases of repeated, flagrant, or serious violations of the Community Standards (e.g., bodily harm, sexual misconduct, physical or verbal abuse or harassment, distribution of drugs, hazing, theft) or violations that caused the harm to another person requiring emergency response, conduct may be considered more than a health and safety matter.


Marijuana (cannabis) is most commonly smoked, vaped, or eaten (edibles). Effects include interference with sensory perception, coordination, reaction time, increase in heart rate, appetite, and anxiety. When combined with alcohol, marijuana can increase your heart rate and blood pressure while further decreasing your mental processing and reaction time. THC, the main chemical that causes one to feel “high” when using marijuana has increased in amount by more than 11% since the 1990s, making marijuana significantly more potent than it has been in the past. Edibles pose a higher risk for overconsumption and potential overdose because they must be digested first before they are absorbed by the body. Signs of overdose may include: extreme confusion, anxiety, paranoia, panic, delusions or hallucinations, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and severe nausea or vomiting. [Content source: National Institute on Drug Abuse.]

Opioids including heroin, codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl, cause the body to have diminished pain reactions and can cause physical dependence. Opioids are respiratory depressants and their use can be associated with coma and death.

Depressants including barbiturates, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs, depress not only the activity of the brain, causing an effect on the heart and respiration, but also muscle tissues. Short-term physical effects include drowsiness, slurred speech, irritability, stupor, and impaired judgment, memory, and attention. Long-term effects include disrupted sleep, psychosis, respiratory depression, coma, and neuropsychological and structural brain damage. Withdrawal can produce extreme anxiety, insomnia, convulsions, and death.

Hallucinogens such as LSD (d-lysergic acid diethylamide), disrupt the brain chemicals that enable us to make sense of our environment. LSD and other hallucinogens are potent and extremely unpredictable drugs that produce fast-acting and unexpected effects. The most common acute reactions are panic revolving around severe anxiety and intense fear of losing control and psychotic reactions involving severe breaks with reality and persistent hallucinations and delusions. Psychotic reactions have been known to last weeks or months and often require hospitalization. Delayed effects, or flashbacks, can occur even when use has ceased.

Inhalants such as cleaning fluids, solvents, aerosols, and airplane glue, act on the central nervous system much like such volatile anesthetics as ether and chloroform and they produce bizarre perceptual and hallucinatory actions. Short-term physical effects include sneezing, lack of coordination, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, and seizures. Psychological effects include confusion, disorientation, loss of inhibitions, and impulsive behavior that may lead to injuries and accidents. Long-term health risks include nosebleeds, loss of consciousness, hepatitis, liver failure, kidney failure, respiratory depression, blood abnormalities, irregular heartbeat, and possible suffocation.

Cocaine/crack use includes the immediate effects of dilated pupils, elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature, followed by depression. Crack, or freebase rock cocaine, causes physical dependence quickly and can cause delirium, hallucinations, blurred vision, severe chest pain, muscle spasms, convulsions, and death.

Amphetamines and amphetamine-like stimulants such as diet pills, methamphetamine or speed, and some ADHD medications (Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta) can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism, as well as increased energy, nervousness, and insomnia. High dose usage is associated with rapid breathing, loss of coordination, aggressive or violent behavior, panic, paranoia, psychosis, addiction, and heart failure.


To reflect its commitment to alcohol and drug awareness, the University calls upon key individuals and departments to educate the University community on the dangers of alcohol abuse and drug use:

  • The Office of Student Outreach and Support coordinates alcohol and drug education and programming as well as materials to assist students with issues concerning alcohol and drug usage.
  • Members of the Division of Student Life and the Office of Public Safety & Security assist in implementing and enforcing the policy.
  • The Advisory Council on Alcohol, Drugs, and Student Health assists the Vice President for Student Life/Associate Provost by making recommendations for an overall vision and plan for the wellness, alcohol, and drug education needs of Saint Joseph’s University.

The University makes available to all students Counseling and Psychological Services; a counseling office staffed principally by licensed mental health professionals. A staff psychologist with a particular focus on substance abuse issues is included. For students engaged in counseling at the center, the services of a qualified psychiatrist are also available. The University strongly urges its students to take advantage of these services.

Campus Resources:

Office of Student Outreach and Support | Alcohol & Drug Education

Collegiate Recovery Program

Student Health Center

  • Hawk Hill: 610-660-1175
  • University City: 215-596-8980

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

  • Hawk Hill: 610-660-1090
  • University City: 215-596-8536

Mutual Aid and 12-Step Meetings (on SJU’s campuses)

Local Resources:
Alcoholics Anonymous (off-campus)

Narcotics Anonymous (off-campus)

For additional resources please visit this website:

The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Biennial Review provides more detailed information about Saint Joseph’s University alcohol and drug programs. (https://www.sju.edu/offices/student-life/sos/alcohol-drug-education


Students are expected to comply with applicable laws regarding the unlawful use, possession or sale of illicit drugs and alcohol. Students may be subject to both institution and criminal sanctions as provided by federal, state, and local law.

Pennsylvania State Penalties

The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 P.S. § 780-101 et seq. Prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale or acquisition by misrepresentation or forgery of controlled substances except in accordance with the Act, as well as the knowing possession of controlled substances unlawfully acquired. Penalties for first-time violators of the Act range from 30 days imprisonment, a $500 fine or both for possession or distribution of a small amount of marijuana or hashish, not for sale, to 15 years imprisonment or a $250,000 fine or both for the manufacture or delivery of a Schedule I or II narcotic.

18 Pa. C.S.A. §§ 6314, 6317. A person over eighteen years of age who is convicted for violating The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, shall be sentenced to a minimum of a least one year total confinement if the delivery or possession with intent to deliver of the controlled substance was to a minor. If the offense is committed within 1,000 feet of the real property on which a university is located, the person shall be sentenced to an additional minimum sentence of at least 2 years total confinement.

The Pharmacy Act of 1961, 63 P.S. § 390-8. It is unlawful to procure or attempt to procure drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or subterfuge or by forgery or alteration of a prescription. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of one years imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both. For each subsequent offense, the maximum penalty is three years imprisonment, a $15,000 fine, or both.

The Vehicle Code, 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 3802 et seq. A person is prohibited from driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or both, if the driver is thereby rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle or if the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath exceeds the stated limits. Penalties for first-time violators of the Act range from probation and a $300 fine or both to a maximum of six months imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both. Penalties for subsequent violations increase to a maximum of five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both. In addition to the above penalties, the court has discretion to order any or all of the following: highway safety training, drug or alcohol treatment, community service, use of an ignition interlock device and/or suspension of operating privileges.

Drugs-Federal Penalties and Sanctions: Illegal Possession or Trafficking of a Controlled Substance

21 U.S.C.A. §844 (a). For a first conviction, any person who violates this subsection may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine of $1,000, or both. After one prior conviction for any drug, narcotic or chemical offense, a term of imprisonment of at least 15 days, not to exceed 2 years and a fine of at least $2,500. After two or more prior convictions under this subchapter, a term of imprisonment of at least 90 days, not to exceed 3 years, and a fine of at least $5,000.

A person convicted for the possession of a mixture or substance which contains cocaine base shall be imprisoned for at least 5 years and not more than 20 years, and a fine of a minimum of $1,000, if: (i) the conviction is a first conviction and the amount of the mixture or substance exceeds 5 grams; (ii) after a second conviction and the amount of mixture or substance exceeds 3 grams, and; (iii) after a third or subsequent conviction and the amount of mixture or substance exceeds 1 gram.

Any person convicted under this subsection for the possession of flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) shall be imprisoned for not more than 3 years, and a fine of at least $5,000.

21 U.S.C.A. §§ 853 (a)(2) Property subject to criminal forfeiture. Any person convicted of a violation of this subchapter punishable by imprisonment for more than one year shall forfeit any personal property used, or intended to be used to facilitate the commission of a controlled substance.

21 U.S.C.A. § 881 (a) (4) (7) Subject Property. Forfeiture of all conveyances, including vehicles, boats, aircraft which are used, or are intended for use, to transport, or to aid in the transportation, sale, receipt, possession, or concealment of all controlled substances or raw materials, products and equipment of any kind which are used, or intended for use, in manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, or exporting any controlled substance or listed chemical.

21 U.S.C.A. § 862 Drug Possession. Any person who is convicted under State or Federal law involving the possession of a controlled substance shall be ineligible for any or all Federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts and professional and commercial licenses, for up to 1 year. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense, a person shall be ineligible for all Federal benefits for up to 5 years.

Drug Trafficking. Any person who is convicted under State or Federal law involving the distribution of controlled substances shall be ineligible for any and all Federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts and professional and commercial licenses, for up to 5 years. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense, a person shall be ineligible for all Federal benefits for up to 10 years; and upon a third or subsequent conviction, be permanently ineligible for all Federal benefits.

18 U.S.C.A. § 922 (g). It is unlawful for any person who is an unlawful user or addicted to any controlled substance to possess, receive or transport any firearm or ammunition.