UC Merced is committed to providing a safe, healthy, and supportive learning and working environment for students and employees. The university takes seriously and understands its obligation to inform the campus community of available resources and support, as well as the educational, disciplinary, health, and legal consequences of abuse of alcohol and illegal drug use for the benefit of the UC Merced community, and in compliance with relevant federal and state law. UC Merced’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Programs (DAAPP) are intended to support student and employee health, safety and security by increasing awareness, preventing abuse, and decreasing potential drug and alcohol related crime.
The University strives to maintain communities and workplaces free from the illegal use, possession or distribution of alcohol and controlled substances. The manufacture, sale, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of alcohol and controlled substances by University students and employees on University property, at official University functions, or on University business is governed by law and University policies.
The unlawful or unauthorized possession, use, distribution, dispensation, sale or manufacture of controlled substances or alcohol is prohibited on University premises. Please note, although California voters passed Proposition 64 legalizing recreational use of marijuana among people over the age of 21, the university continues to prohibit the use, possession and sale of marijuana in any form on all university property, including university-owned and leased buildings, housing and parking lots. Marijuana is also not permitted at university events or while conducting university business, except for approved academic research.
Students found to be in violation of these laws or policies may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, in addition to any criminal or civil penalties resulting from violating local, state and/or federal law. Employees found to be in violation of these laws and policies may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, under applicable University policies and labor contracts, and may be required to participate in an appropriate treatment program, in addition to any potential criminal or civil penalties resulting from violating a local, state or federal law.
- UC Merced Code of Student Conduct 313.1, 702.17, 702.18, and Policies, sanctions and appeals process
- UC Merced Housing and Residence Education: Behavioral Policies: BP01Alcohol and BP06 Drugs
- Fraternity & Sorority Life Handbook; Risk Management Policies: Alcohol and Drug, Required Program Expectations, and Appendix C: FSL Required Programming: Alcohol Awareness Programming
- UC Merced Alcohol Sales & Service Procedures
- UC Merced Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy
- UC Guidance on use and possession of marijuana on UC property
- UC Policy Against Substance Abuse
- UC Policy on Controlled Substances
- UC Smoke and Tobacco Free Environment Policy
The following summarizes some of the California state laws regarding drugs and alcohol that may be relevant to students and employees:
- Controlled Substances
- California penalties for offenses involving controlled substances include those set forth in the California Health & Safety Code § 11350: Imprisonment in the county jail or state prison, a fine not to exceed $70, or probation with fine for felony convictions of at least $1,000 for the first offense and at least $2,000 for second or subsequent offenses or community service for unlawful possession of controlled substances. (HS § 11350)
- Under California law, possession of certain controlled substances (Schedule I, II, and III) for sale or purchasing for the purpose of sale are punishable by imprisonment of two, three, or four years. (HS §§ 11054, 11055, 11056 & 11351)
- Penalties are more severe for offenses involving heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, or any analog of these substances and occurring upon the grounds of, or within, a church or synagogue, a playground, a public or private youth center, a child day care facility, or a public swimming pool, during hours in which the facility is open for business, classes, or school-related programs, or at any time when minors are using the facility. (HS § 11353.1)
- It is unlawful to possess any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking certain controlled substances. (HS § 11364)
- Personal property may be subject to forfeiture if it contains drugs or was used in a drug manufacture, distribution, dispensation or acquired in violation of this division. (HS § 11470)
- The California Legislature declares that the dispensing and furnishing of prescription drugs, controlled substances and dangerous drugs or dangerous devices without a license poses a significant threat to the health, safety and welfare of all persons residing in the state and shall be guilty of a crime. (HS § 11352.1)
- It is illegal for persons under the age of 21 to possess an alcoholic beverage in any public place or any place open to the public. Sanctions range from a fine of $250-$500 and community service, depending on whether the offense is a first or subsequent violation. (BP § 25662)
- Any person who furnishes, gives or sells any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of 21 is guilty of a misdemeanor. Potential sanctions include fines of $250 or higher, community service, and imprisonment, depending on the facts of the case. (BP § 25658)
- Any person under the influence of alcohol in a public place and unable to exercise care for one’s own safety or that of others is guilty of a misdemeanor. (PC § 647 (f))
- It is illegal for persons to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants or with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. (CVC § 23152)
- It is a misdemeanor to ride a bicycle upon a highway under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both. (CVC § 21200.5)
- It is an infraction to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while in a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23223)
- It is an infraction for an owner or driver of a motor vehicle to allow an open container of alcohol in the passenger area. (CVC § 23225)
- Driving Under the Influence
- First conviction: Imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 96 hours, at least 48 hours which are continuous, nor more than six months and by a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and except as otherwise provided suspension of privilege to operate motor vehicle. (CVC § 23536)
- Conviction of driving under the influence with or without bodily injury within ten years of certain other felony convictions including vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence: Imprisonment in state prison or in the county jail for not more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and revocation of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23550.5)
- Driving under the influence causing bodily injury: Imprisonment in state prison or county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $1,000 and suspension of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23554)
- Driving under the influence causing bodily injury or death to more than one victim: Enhancement of one year in state prison for each additional injured victim up to a maximum of three one-year enhancements. (CVC §23558)
- Second conviction of driving under the influence causing bodily injury within ten years or conviction within ten years of separate conviction of other specified offenses involving alcohol or drugs: Imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 120 days nor more than one year and a fine of not less than $390 nor more than $5,000 and revocation of privilege to operate a motor vehicle. (CVC § 23560)
Federal law prohibits the illegal possession of a controlled substance. (21 U.S.C. § 844(a))
- First offense: prison sentences up to one year and a minimum fine of $1,000.
- Second offense: prison sentences up to two years and a minimum fine of $2,500.
- Third offense: prison sentences up to three years and a minimum fine of $5,000.
- Special sentencing provisions apply for possession of flunitrazepam, including imprisonment of three years as well as the fine schedule referenced above.
Loss of Federal Aid
Students convicted of any offense under any Federal or State law involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance for conduct that occurred during a period of enrollment for which the student was receiving any Federal grant, loan, or work assistance shall not be eligible to receive any grant, loan, or work assistance from the date of that conviction for the following period: Students convicted of drug possession will be ineligible for one year from the date of the conviction of the first offense, two years for the second offense, and indefinitely for the third offense. Students convicted of selling drugs will be ineligible for two years from the date of the first conviction, and indefinitely for the second offense. Those who lose eligibility can regain eligibility by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program. (20 U.S.C. § 1091(r))
Improper use of drugs or alcohol can seriously injure the health of employees and students, impair the performance of their responsibilities and endanger the safety and well-being of fellow employees, students and members of the general public.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides a comprehensive description of the health consequences of drug misuse. Please see:
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides a comprehensive description of the effects alcohol has on the body. Please see:
Resources for Students
The University provides educational programs and counseling to students who are substance abusers and those affected by the substance abuse of others. Substance abuse may involve not only controlled substances and illegal drugs, but alcohol and other substances that may be detrimental to health, even though not subject to state and federal laws. For confidential help with substance-related problems, students can explore the following options:
- Counseling and Psychological Services: 209-228-4266
- Student Health Services: 209-228-2273 (CAT-CARE)
- Peer Recovery Support Group: Meets weekly and is facilitated by a licensed psychologist.
- In-patient care coordination: Works with Health Services to coordinate care for students with a high level of dependency. Students with Medi-Cal/Central California Alliance can receive in and out patience services through Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Students with UCSHIP can receive in-patient care as close as Fresno.
Resources for Employees
The University encourages employees who have a problem with the use of controlled substances or alcohol to seek professional advice and treatment. For confidential help with substance-related problems, employees can explore the following options:
- Many UC medical plans offer tobacco cessation resources. Copays and program fees may apply. https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/working-at-uc/livingwell/tobacco-cessation-resources.html
- The Insight Employee Assistance Program is a free and confidential service that provides services to UC Merced faculty and staff. EAP has a host of tobacco cessation information and a program called "56 Days to Quitting" on its website.
- Behavioral health and substance abuse coverage are provided by Managed Health Network (MHN — a Health Net company) for employees and retirees enrolled in UC Blue & Gold HMO.
- Behavioral health and substance abuse coverage are provided by Optum and Kaiser for employees and retirees enrolled in Kaiser.
- Anthem Blue Cross provides behavioral health and substance abuse coverage for employees and retirees enrolled in UC PPO plans.
- The Office of the Ombuds can assist you in finding services.
Other Local Resources
- Narcotics.com https://www.narcotics.com/ 800-407-7195
- Merced County Alcohol and Drug Services: 3305 G St., Merced, 209-381-6850; http://www.co.merced.ca.us/index.aspx?nid= 78
- Recovery Assistance for Teens (RAFT): 3313 G St., Merced, 209-381-6880
- Alcoholics Anonymous: 209-385-0309 (8:00 am – 12:00 am)
- Alateen: 209-524-3907
- Merced County Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services: 888-334-0163 (no charge, 24 hours), TDD toll free: 866-293-1818; http://www.co.merced.ca.us/index.aspx?nid= 462
- Merced County Mental Health Emergency Services: 209-381-6800
- Merced County Treatment Center: The Center, 3305 G St., Merced, 209-381-6880