The Code of Conduct at Montana State is guided by, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Fostering a healthy, safe and productive campus and community;
  2. Promoting moral and ethical development;
  3. Abiding by city, state and federal laws.
The University's alcohol and drug policies echo the aforementioned principles. And, as a federally-funded institution, we must adhere to all federal laws when it comes to alcohol and drug use or distribution. This holds true for marijuana as well. Using or distributing marijuana on or off campus is a violation of our code of conduct even if a student has a medical card or comes from a state in which marijuana is legal or has been decriminalized (see Decriminalization of Marijuana FAQ below for more information)

As outlined in section 610.00 of our code of conduct, the University's alcohol and drug policies apply off campus. Additionally, using drugs and/or alcohol and returning to your residence hall in a disruptive fashion- either via odor, noise, destruction, etc- can lead to residence life policy and alcohol or drug policy violations. Remember, not everyone wants to hear or smell you. 


Code of Conduct

Alcohol - Illegal Use: Use or possession of intoxicants, including alcohol, in the buildings or on the grounds of Montana State University except as expressly permitted by law or University policy.
Alcohol Distribution: Distribution of intoxicants, including alcohol, in the buildings or on the grounds of Montana State University except as expressly permitted by law or University policy.
Drugs - Illegal Use: Use, possession, manufacture, distribution or sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs as defined by city, state or federal laws.  This includes mind-altering drugs, designer drugs or synthetic substances used as a substitute for a controlled substance, except as expressly permitted by law or University policy. This also includes the abuse, distribution or improper use of prescription drugs.
Drugs Distribution: Manufacture, distribution or sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs, except as expressly permitted by law or University policy.
Disruptive Conduct - Other: A. Violation of federal, state or local law on University premises or at University sponsored activities; violation of published University policies, rules or regulations; B. Acting to impair, interfere with or obstruct the orderly conduct, processes and functions of the University. [Note that this violation can be applied to the odor of marijuana being present in Residence Life and FGH facilities.]

Decriminalization of Marijuana in the State of Montana- FAQ

Q: I heard that marijuana is legal in Montana now. Is that true?

A: As of January 1, 2021, Montana law allows certain marijuana-related activities for people age 21 and older, such as limited use of medical marijuana and limited recreational use and possession. However, using and possessing marijuana in any form remains a crime under federal law, namely the Controlled Substances Act.


Q: What does the decriminalization of marijuana mean for me as a student of Montana State University?

A: Despite Montana law, marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. As such, marijuana use or possession is prohibited across the entire MSU campus. That includes all open areas and buildings, such as the residence and dining halls.

The MSU Code of Student Conduct prohibits the use and possession of marijuana in any form, including, but not limited to: tinctures, edibles and topicals. Students who use or possess marijuana on campus are subject to discipline.

The use of medical marijuana in the workplace and on campus is also prohibited by federal laws, such as the Drug-Free Workplace Act and the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.


Q: What about marijuana use in the residence halls or dining halls?

A: Marijuana use, possession and distribution are violations of university housing policy and the MSU Code of Student Conduct. These activities cannot occur on any university property.

The possession of a medical marijuana permit does not allow for the possession or use of marijuana in the residence halls. Marijuana obtained for medicinal purposes cannot be stored or used in the residence halls.

In addition, the use of objects that produce smoke or vapor — including but not limited to paraphernalia or materials, electronic cigarettes, and vape pens — are prohibited in the residence halls.

Students found to be violating this policy will be held accountable through MSU’s Code of Student Conduct.


Q: How can the university prohibit the use and possession of marijuana if it’s not a crime in the state of Montana?

A: MSU receives federal funding, such as financial aid, grants and contracts for research. As such, the university is required to continue to prohibit the use, possession and distribution of all federally controlled substances — including marijuana. Consequently, such activity will remain prohibited by university policy and the MSU Code of Student Conduct. The Montana State University Police Department will continue to enforce the campus-wide prohibition of marijuana.


Q: Who can I talk to if I have more questions about my rights and responsibilities as a student?

A: Here are on-campus resources:

· MSU Code of Student Conduct: Dean of Students Office, 406-994-2826

· Living on campus and Residence Life policies: Residence Life Office, 406-994-2661

· University Police, 406-994-2121

· Legal questions: ASMUS Legal Services attorneys, 406-994-2933 or


Montana Medical Amnesty

(11) (a) A person under 21 years of age may not be charged or prosecuted under subsection (1) if:
(i) the person has consumed an intoxicating substance and seeks medical treatment at a health care facility or contacts law enforcement personnel or an emergency medical service provider for the purpose of seeking medical treatment;
(ii) the person accompanies another person under 21 years of age who has consumed an intoxicating substance and seeks medical treatment at a health care facility or contacts law enforcement personnel or an emergency medical service provider for the purpose of seeking medical treatment for the other person; or
(iii) the person requires medical treatment as a result of consuming an intoxicating substance and evidence of a violation of this section is obtained during the course of seeking or receiving medical treatment.
(b) For purposes of this subsection (11), the following definitions apply:
(i) "Health care facility" means a facility or entity that is licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized by law to administer medical treatment in this state.
(ii) "Medical treatment" means medical treatment provided by an emergency medical service or health care facility. (See compiler's comments for contingent termination of certain text.)"

Dean of Students' Medical Amnesty Policy

We adamantly encourage students to seek help for themselves or others regardless if they have misused or abused alcohol or drugs. Please see the medical amnesty policy document for full details.  

Policy at Athletic events, including, but not limited to, Football Games

Students and attendees are expected to behave in a respectful and law-abiding manner at Bobcat Athletics events. Despite what you might see on the television, these events are not free-for-alls when it comes to alcohol or drug use. Not only does the Code of Conduct still apply, so, too, do state and federal laws. Please avoid putting yourself in a situation where you might receive a citation for violating state laws.


If a student accepts responsibility through an administrative agreement or is found responsible through a formal hearing for additional violations stemming from the same incident involving alcohol or drugs, other sanctions may be proposed or applied. Specifically, if disruption accompanies alcohol or drug cases, additional sanctions may be discussed/proposed. These can include community service, residence hall probation or removal, conduct probation, peer mentoring, etc. Or if disruption related to the smell of alcohol and/or drugs in the residence halls is the sole violation, any or all of the same sanctions may apply.

When considering outcomes for alcohol or drug violations, all cases are contextualized. For instance, not all violations are resolved exactly the same way. There are obvious variables that could impact the outcomes listed below, including level of intoxication, the intoxicant, etc.

If you have been cited or arrested for an alcohol or drug-related law violation, the conduct officer may allow court-ordered sanctions to substitute for University sanctions. This is especially relevant to alcohol and drug education classes and community service.

  • Recommended Sanctions for a first violation of an alcohol or drug policy are a University Warning and the completion of an Alcohol/Drug Education course. 
  • Recommended Sanctions for a second violation are conduct probation/residence hall probation or relocation and/or an additional level of Alcohol or Drug Education.
  • Recommended Sanctions for a third violation are conduct suspension, housing removal and/or additional Alcohol or Drug Education, including a substance abuse assessment.