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Policies, Workplace Requirements and Disciplinary Proceedings

Illegal or abusive use of drugs or alcohol can adversely affect the educational environment and prevent a person from achieving personal, social, and educational goals. The University has had a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program for faculty, staff, and students since 1987 that addresses substance abuse through education and, when appropriate, through referral or disciplinary action. Since then, the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988, the Drug Free Schools and Communities Amendments of 1989, and the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 have established certain federal reporting and information distribution requirements designed to combat drug and alcohol abuse.

The University’s Alcohol Policy establishes rules on student and employee alcohol use and possession, additional rules for recognized student groups, and University consequences for violations of those rules. In North Carolina, “It is against the law for any person under twenty-one (21) to possess, use, distribute, or purchase any alcoholic beverage The Alcohol Policy also restricts the possession use, and distribution of alcohol by students and employees over age 21 on University property and as part of University activities. It provides guidance on serving alcohol at events on campus and restricts the service of alcohol in accordance with North Carolina law. Further, the policy also contains a medical amnesty provision.
All students, faculty, and staff are responsible for knowing about and complying with this policy. Those responsibilities include being aware of and complying with state laws that make it a crime to possess, sell, deliver, or manufacture drugs designated collectively as “controlled substances” in Article 5 of Chapter 90 of the North Carolina General Statutes. These substances include cocaine, amphetamines, anabolic steroids, marijuana, and other drugs. Any University community member who violates those laws may be subject both to criminal prosecution and punishment by civil authorities and to disciplinary proceedings by the University. Copies of the full text of the policy are available at the Office of Student Affairs, the Office of Human Resources, and online.
Federal legislation also requires, as a condition of employment, that any faculty, staff member, or student assistant engaged in the performance of a federal grant or contract must abide by the University’s drug policy and, if he or she is convicted of a violation of any criminal drug statute in the workplace, must give written notice of that conviction to his or her dean, director, or department chair within five days thereafter. The dean, director, or chair should forward any such reports to the University’s Vice Chancellor and General Counsel.
Disciplinary proceedings against a student, faculty or staff member, or other employee will be initiated under the University’s Policy on Illegal Drugs.

Possible penalties for violations of the Policy on Illegal Drugs range from written warnings with probationary status to expulsion from enrollment and discharge from employment. On-the-job drug or alcohol impairment or any possession or use of alcohol on campus other than that authorized by the policies noted above are not permitted under these policies and will be addressed appropriately through established student, faculty and staff disciplinary procedures.

  • Sale of amphetamines, cocaine, GHB, heroin, LSD, MDMA, opium, oxycodone, or psilocybin
    • Student expulsion and employee discharge.
  • Illegal possession of these drugs
    • First offense: suspension from enrollment or employment for at least one semester. Because the Policy on Illegal Drugs requires, at a minimum, a longer suspension without pay than State Personnel Commission regulations allow, the penalty for a first offense committed by an SHRA employee is discharge.
    • Second offense: sanctions up to expulsion for students and discharge for employees.
  • Sale of anabolic steroids or marijuana
    • First offense: suspension from enrollment or employment for at least one semester. Because of State Personnel Commission rules, SHRA employees will be discharged.
    • Second offense: student expulsion and employee discharge.
  • Illegal possession of these drugs
    • First offense: Probation. Possible conditions of probation include drug education and counseling, regular drug testing, and other appropriate conditions.
      • If a student or employee fails to comply with probation conditions: suspension for the balance of the probation period. Because of State Personnel Commission rules, if the balance of an SHRA employee’s probation period exceeds one work week, he/she will be discharged.
    • Subsequent offenses: progressively more severe penalties, including expulsion and discharge.
  • Violations of the Alcohol Policy
    • Disciplinary action up to and including termination for employees.
    • Students will be referred to Wellness Services for Tar Heel BASICS, and may be required to pay restitution or complete community service. BASICS is a preventive alcohol abuse intervention program for college students 18 to 24 years old. It is aimed at students who have had negative experiences or other problems related to alcohol misuse. The program is designed to help students make better alcohol-use decisions and to overall reduce their risks for alcohol-related harm. The program’s style is not confrontational or judgmental and consists of two sessions with a Student Wellness staff member. Students who enroll in BASICS are assessed a fee for service that is charged to the student’s account. Students who violate the Alcohol Policy will also be subject to disciplinary probation for a definite or indefinite period, including probation with associated conditions or requirements. Probation means that a student may remain at the University, but may be required to satisfy specified conditions or requirements, report regularly to appropriate University officials or community professionals, and may be barred from holding any office or participating in any activity in which the student represents the University or University-recognized student organizations either within or outside the University community. The sanction of probation prohibits graduation until the period of probation has ended and the student has complied with all requirements of the sanctions. Disciplinary probation shall be reflected on a student’s academic transcript while active, but will be removed upon successful completion of disciplinary probation. For repeat or egregious violations including sale or provision of alcohol to minors, students may face additional disciplinary sanctions, including suspension from the University. For violations occurring in University Housing, students may receive additional Housing sanctions. Student organizations face revocation of their University recognition.
  • The following are situations in which a student will be granted amnesty for violations of the Alcohol Policy:
    • Students in need of emergency medical attention: A student who seeks medical attention or a student for whom medical assistance was sought by another person as a result of the consumption of alcohol and who fully cooperates with emergency responders.
    • Victim of a crime: A student who has been the victim of a crime after consuming alcohol and reports the crime to law enforcement or University officials.
    • Reporting party: A student who has experienced sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or other violation of the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct.
    • Caller or support person: A student, who calls on behalf of or accompanies an impaired individual, remains with that individual until assistance arrives, and fully cooperates with emergency responders.
Federal law imposes restrictions and penalties on the possession, distribution, and illegal sale of any controlled substance as well as the sale or distribution of drug paraphernalia. Substances are grouped into five categories:

  • Schedule 1: includes Ecstasy, LSD, heroin, marijuana
  • Schedule 2: includes cocaine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, Adderall, Vicodin, Ritalin
  • Schedule 3: includes anabolic steroids, ketamine, testosterone
  • Schedule 4: includes Ambien, Xanax, and Valium
  • Schedule 5: includes Lyrica and cough suppressants

The law prohibiting unauthorized possession of any controlled substance is found in 21 USC § 844. Simple possession of any controlled substance (meaning having a small amount for personal consumption without intending to distribute or sell) is a misdemeanor under federal law carrying a fine of at least $1,000 and no more than one year in prison (except for possession of Flunitrazepam, more commonly known as “roofies,” which is always a felony and carries a greater penalty). Repeat possession offenders may be charged with a felony, which carries a longer prison sentence and greater fine. Possession with intent to distribute carries additional penalties. In addition to prison time and fines, persons convicted of possession may also be fined for the reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution of the offense.

The penalties for drug trafficking are found in 21 USC § 841 and are listed in the charts below. Persons who violate drug trafficking laws within 1,000 feet of a university may face more severe penalties.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking
Drug/Schedule Quantity Penalty Quantity Penalty
Cocaine (Schedule II) 500-4999g mixture First Offense: Not less than 5 yrs, and not more than 40 yrs. If death or serious injury, not less than 20 or more than life. Fine of not more than $5 million if an individual, $25 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not less than 10 yrs, and not more than life. If death or serious injury, life imprisonment. Fine of not more than $8 million if an individual, $50 million if not an individual. 5 kgs mixture or more First Offense: Not less than 10 yrs, and not more than life. If death or serious injury, not less than 20 or more than life. Fine of not more than $10 million if an individual, $50 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not less than 20 yrs, and not more than life. If death or serious injury, life imprisonment. Fine of not more than $20 million if an individual, $75 million if not an individual. 2 or More Prior Offenses: Life imprisonment. Fine of not more than $20 million if an individual, $75 million if not an individual.
Cocaine Base (Schedule II) 28-279g mixture 280g mixture or more
Fentanyl (Schedule II) 40-399g mixture 400g mixture or more
Fentanyl Analogue (Schedule I) 10-99g mixture 100g mixture or more
Heroin (Schedule I) 100-999g mixture 1kg mixture or more
LSD (Schedule I) 1-9g mixture 10g mixture or more
Methamphetamine (Schedule II) 5-49g pure or 50-499g mixture 50g or more pure
Or 500g or more mixture
PCP (Schedule II) 10-99g pure or 100-999g mixture 100g or more pure
Or 1kg or more mixture
Other Schedule I and II drugs (and any drug product containing Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid Any amount First Offense: Not more than 20 yrs. If death or serious injury, not less than 20 yrs, or more than life. Fine $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual.
Flunitrazepam (Schedule IV) 1 gram First Offense: Not more than 20 yrs. If death or serious injury, not less than 20 yrs, or more than life. Fine $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 30 yrs. If death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment. Fine $2 million if an individual, $10 million if not an individual. Other than 1 gram or more First Offense: Not more than 5 yrs. Fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 10 yrs. Fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than an individual.
Other Schedule III drugs Any amount First Offense: Not more than 10 years. If death or serious injury, not more than 15 yrs. Fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2.5 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 20 yrs. If death or serious injury, not more than 30 yrs. Fine not more than $1 million if an individual, $5 million if not an individual.
All other Schedule IV drugs Any amount First Offense: Not more than 5 yrs. Fine not more than $250,000 if an individual, $1 million if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 10 yrs. Fine not more than $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than an individual.
All Schedule V drugs Any amount First Offense: Not more than 1 yr. Fine not more than $100,000 if an individual, $250,000 if not an individual. Second Offense: Not more than 4 yrs. Fine not more than $200,000 if an individual, $500,000 if not an individual.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking
Drug/Schedule Quantity First Offense Second Offense
Marijuana (Schedule I) 1,000 kg or more marijuana mixture; or 1,000 or more marijuana plants Not less than 10 yrs. or more than life. If death or serious bodily injury, not less than 20 yrs., or more than life. Fine not more than $10 million if an individual, $50 million if other than an individual.
Marijuana (Schedule I) 100 kg to 999 kg marijuana mixture; or 100 to 999 marijuana plants Not less than 5 yrs. or more than 40 yrs. If death or serious bodily injury, not less than 20 yrs. or more than life. Fine not more than $5 million if an individual, $25 million if other than an individual.
Marijuana (Schedule I) More than 10 kgs hashish; 50 to 99 kg marijuana mixture

More than 1 kg of hashish oil; 50 to 99 marijuana plants

Not more than 20 yrs. If death or serious bodily injury, not less than 20 yrs. or more than life. Fine $1 million if an individual, $5 million if other than an individual.
Marijuana (Schedule I) Less than 50 kilograms marijuana (but does not include 50 or more marijuana plants regardless of weight), 1 to 49 marijuana plants Not more than 5 yrs. Fine not more than $250,000, $1 million if other than an individual. Not more than 10 yrs. Fine $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than individual.
Hashish (Schedule I) 10 kg or less Not more than 5 yrs. Fine not more than $250,000, $1 million if other than an individual. Not more than 10 yrs. Fine $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than individual.
Hashish Oil (Schedule I) 1 kg or less Not more than 5 yrs. Fine not more than $250,000, $1 million if other than an individual. Not more than 10 yrs. Fine $500,000 if an individual, $2 million if other than individual.

North Carolina law, like federal law, prohibits possession of any controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking in any controlled substance. North Carolina has structured sentencing, with judges permitted to impose a sentence within a prescribed range, depending on the class of the offense, the number of prior convictions for the individual defendant, and whether there were aggravating or mitigating factors in the circumstances of the offense. The sentences below represent the maximum possible sentence under North Carolina law for possession and sale of the listed drugs:

  • Sale of Amphetamine, Cocaine, GHB, Heroin, LSD, MDMA, Methamphetamine, Oxycodone, Opium, Psilocybin: 47 months imprisonment and fine
  • Sale of anabolic steroids, barbiturates, marijuana: 47 months imprisonment and fine
  • Possession of GHB, Heroin, LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin: 39 months imprisonment and fine
  • Possession of more than 100 dosage units of anabolic steroids, barbiturates, Opium, Oxycodone: 24 months imprisonment and fine
  • Possession of any amount of amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine: 24 months imprisonment and fine
  • Possession of marijuana:
    • less than ½ ounce – 20 days imprisonment and fine
    • more than ½ ounce – 120 days imprisonment and fine
    • more than 1 ½ ounces – 24 months imprisonment and fine

There are additional penalties whenever a drug transaction or drug law violation involves a minor. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95.4; §90-95.5; §90-95.6; § 90-95.7. North Carolina law provides limited immunity for a “good Samaritan.” If someone calls 9-1-1 or a law enforcement officer to seek medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose, they cannot be charged with any misdemeanor possession violation, or a felony possession violation if they have less than one gram of cocaine or heroin. This provision is found in § 90-96.2.

The town of Chapel Hill prohibits the consumption and possession of an open container of of malt beverages and unfortified wine on streets, sidewalks, municipal parking lots or any real estate or buildings owned or occupied by the town, including during times when streets, buildings and lots are closed for special events. The one exception in this ordinance allows for the possession or consumption of malt beverages and unfortified wine in town parking lots 2, 3, the top level of the Wallace Parking Plaza, and public space on the 140 West Plaza when approved as part of a special event approved by the town council. Any violation of these city ordinances is considered a misdemeanor, and is subject to a maximum fine of $50.

A student convicted of any offense under any federal or state law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any grant, loan, or work assistance will not be eligible for any federal grant, loan, or work assistance from the date of that conviction for the period of time set forth below.

  • Possession of a controlled substance:
    • First offense: Ineligible for one year
    • Second offense: Ineligible for two years
    • Third offense: Ineligible for an indefinite period of time
  • Sale of a controlled substance:
    • First offense: Ineligible for two years
    • Second offense: Ineligible for an indefinite period of time.

A student whose eligibility for aid has been suspended may regain eligibility before the end of the ineligibility period if:

  • The student satisfactorily completes a drug rehabilitation program that complies with criteria established by the Secretary of Education and passes two unannounced drug tests; or
  • The student’s conviction is reversed or set aside.

The Federal Student Aid website can help in determining when someone may be eligible for aid again.

There is help available for those who seek it. Student Wellness — 919-962-9355 — provides Tar Heel BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) on a referral basis for students who violate the student alcohol policy, or on a self-referral basis, for any student who may be questioning their alcohol use patterns. Additionally, Student Wellness provides referral assistance to students and their families for local substance abuse counselors, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs), and Inpatient Treatment Programs. Student Wellness also offers mentorship and social support for students in recovery from substance abuse through the Carolina Recovery Community.

Counseling and Psychological Services — 919-966-3658 — offers clinical assessments, brief counseling, and referrals for students seeking help for substance abuse problems.

UNC Health Care’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program offers clinical assessments, comprehensive DUI services, intensive outpatient counseling, and group support. They can be accessed by calling 919-966-6039.

The University’s Employee Assistance Program — 877-314-5841 (24 hours a day) — provides assessment, referrals and online EAP resources for employees and their family members. Local community mental health agencies and personal physicians can identify treatment resources, and information and assistance also are available from local chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Information on Health Risks

Information about the health risks associated with drug abuse and the misuse of alcohol is available from Campus Health Services. As the federal Drug Free Schools and Communities Amendments of 1989 require, included below is a description of the health risks associated with the use of illicit drugs and misuse of alcohol, a summary of applicable legal sanctions for the unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol and a summary of the University’s minimum sanctions for unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol by students or employees on University property or as a part of any University activity.

Illegal drugs and alcohol not only pose serious health risks to those who use them, but state and federal criminal penalties for possession, sale, trafficking, and illegal interstate transportation also are severe. University disciplinary sanctions for the possession and sale of illegal drugs and alcohol can result in disruption or termination of University education or employment. More detailed information for a selected list of substances follows:

This depressant slows down the heart, nervous system, and brain, and high doses of alcohol can cause someone to stop breathing. Prolonged immoderate use can cause artery disease, heart failure, and liver damage including cancer, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Women may develop alcohol-related health problems sooner than men, and from drinking less alcohol than men. Because alcohol affects nearly every organ in the body, long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for many serious health problems. More information is available.
Marijuana has various risks associated with use, whether inhaled or ingested with food. Evidence indicates it can affect brain development in teens and young adults. In the short-term, it causes problems with short term memory and learning, distorts perception (sights and sounds), and causes poor coordination and decision making. It has been known to contain more than 400 chemicals and has 2 ½ times as much tar as tobacco. Because it decreases concentration and learning abilities, marijuana is particularly detrimental to students.

Research shows that marijuana users experience the same health problems as tobacco smokers, such as bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, and throat and lung cancer; tend to have more chest colds than non-users; and are at greater risk of getting lung infections like pneumonia. Studies show that someone who smokes five joints per day may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Other effects include increased heart rate, dryness of the mouth, reddening of the eyes, and impaired motor skills. Long term use is associated with depression, anxiety, and loss of motivation. More information is available.

Steroids have side effects ranging from insomnia to death. Using them increases the risk of cancer and cardiovascular, kidney, and liver disease. Users may exhibit mood swings that include aggressive, combative behavior, and use may cause impotence, sterility, or fetal damage. More information is available.
These drugs can cause acute psychoses and malnutrition. They also can make a user nervous, hyperactive, and sleepless and can elevate pulse rate and blood pressure as well as exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. More information is available.
Meth is a highly addictive drug that targets the functioning of the central nervous system. Short term effects include increased wakefulness, increased physical activity, decreased appetite, increased respiration, rapid heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, hypothermia, irritability, paranoia, insomnia, confusion, tremors, and aggressiveness. Long-term health effects include irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain, stroke, severe reduction in motor skills with symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease, impaired verbal learning, memory impairment, and decreased ability to regulate emotions. Many of the long term effects persist after use of the drug is discontinued. More information is available.

Both physiologically and psychologically addictive, these drugs can cause death in high doses. Infants born to barbiturate users may suffer congenital deformities.  Other effects include nausea, dizziness, lethargy, allergic reactions, and possible breathing difficulties. More information is available.

Anyone who uses cocaine – even a first-time user – may have seizures, heart fibrillation, and strokes that can result in death.  Habitual users experience irritability, paranoia, and hallucinations. Use causes tumors, chronic fatigue, dangerous weight loss, sexual impotence, and insomnia and affects respiration, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. More information is available.

An overdose of these psychologically and physiologically addictive drugs can cause death through suppression of central nervous systems including breathing.  Users feel sluggish and fall asleep at inappropriate and dangerous times. Intravenous users risk contracting Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and other infections. More information is available.
LSD causes hallucinations, perception distortions, and anxiety. Users cannot function normally and are accident-prone. LSD also can cause elevated body temperature and respiration and a rapid heartbeat. More information is available.
This drug produces both stimulant and psychedelic effects including increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nervousness, and hyperactivity. Because users may experience feelings of increased confidence, sensitivity, arousal, and confusion, use of Ecstasy makes them more vulnerable to crime, especially robbery, sexual assault, and other unwanted sexual encounters. More information is available.
These drugs are chemically similar to heroin and opium. Although they can be safe and effective treatments for pain when prescribed by a doctor and used as directed, they are psychologically and physiologically addictive and overdose and death through misuse is possible. Because of their medical uses, these drugs are frequently manufactured in a time-release (sustained-release, long-acting, extended-release) form. If users circumvent the time-release formulation, they may take a larger dose than intended, overdose, and suffer serious complications or death. Combining opioids with alcohol or other drugs significantly increases the risk to life and well-being. More information is available.
This substance, found in certain mushrooms, causes hallucinations and perception distortions. Users cannot function normally and are accident-prone. This drug also can produce anxiety, elevated body temperature, rapid heartbeat, and elevated respiration. More information is available.
These drugs are chemically similar to amphetamines. Although they are safe and effective treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when prescribed by a doctor and used as directed, they are powerful stimulants and can be addictive. Because of their medical uses, these drugs are frequently manufactured in a time-release (sustained-release, long-acting, extended-release) form. If users circumvent the time-release formulation, they may take a larger dose than intended, overdose, and suffer complications or death. More information is available.