University of Wisconsin–Madison: Drug-Free School and Communities Act 

Standards of Conduct:

In a good faith effort to comply with the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989, the University of Wisconsin System and the UW–Madison prohibit the unlawful possession, use, distribution, manufacture or dispensing of illicit drugs (“controlled substances” as defined in Ch. 961, formerly Ch. 161, Wis. Stat.), in accordance with s. UWS 18.10, Wis. Adm. Code, by employees on university property or as part of university activities. The use or possession of alcoholic beverages is also prohibited on university premises, except in faculty and staff housing and as expressly permitted by the chief administrative officer or under institutional regulations, in accordance with s. UWS 18.06 (13)(b), Wis. Adm. Code. Without exception, alcohol consumption is governed by Wisconsin statutory age restrictions under s. UWS 18.06 (13)(b), Wis. Adm. Code.

Legal sanctions:

The laws of Wisconsin prohibit drug possession and delivery through the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Wis. Stat. 961, and mandate stiff penalties that include up to 15 years of prison and fines up to $500,000. A person with a first-time conviction of possession of a controlled substance can be sentenced up to one year of prison and fined up to $5,000, Wis. Stat. 961.41 (3g)(a). The penalties vary according to the amount of drug confiscated, the type of drug found, the number of previous offenses by the individual and whether the individual intended to manufacture the drug, sell the drug or use the drug. (See Wis. Stat. 961.41.) In addition to the stringent penalties for possession or delivery, the sentences can be doubled when exacerbating factors are present, such as when a person distributes a controlled substance to a minor, Wis. Stat. 961.46(1).

Substantial restrictions against alcohol abuse also exist in Wisconsin. It is against the law to sell alcohol to anyone who has not reached the legal drinking age of 21, and there is a concurrent duty on the part of an adult to prevent the illegal consumption of alcohol on his/her premises, Wis. Stat. 125.07(1)(a)(1). Violation of this statute can result in a $500 dollar fine. It is against the law for an underage person to attempt to buy an alcoholic beverage, falsely represent his/her age, or enter a licensed premises. Violators of this law can be fined $500, ordered to participate in a supervised work program, and have their driver’s license suspended, Wis. Stat. 125.07(4)(3). Harsher penalties exist for the retailers of alcoholic beverages who violate it, including up to 90 days in jail and revocation of their retail liquor permit.

The federal government has recently revised the penalties against drug possession and trafficking through its Federal Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines reduce the discretion that federal judges may use in sentencing offenders of federal drug statutes. Under these guidelines, courts can sentence a person for up to six years for unlawful possession of a controlled substance, including the distribution of a small amount (less than 250 grams of marijuana). A sentence of life imprisonment can result from a conviction of possession of a controlled substance that results in death or bodily injury. Possession of more than 5 grams of cocaine can trigger an intent to distribute penalty of 10–16 years in prison, USSG, s. 2D2.1(b)(1).

Health risks:

Drugs at work are a hidden habit, but they have visible effects on the user. Whether the drug of choice is alcohol, marijuana, a prescription drug or cocaine, the habit can lead to a change in work habits, too. Some people may believe that drugs are harmless or even helpful. The truth is that drugs can have very serious, long-term physical and emotional health effects. And if drugs are mixed, the impact is even more detrimental. The following is a partial list of drugs often found in the work place and some of the consequences of their use. Only some of the known health risks are covered, and not all legal or illegal drugs are included:

  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the work place. It can lead to poor judgment and coordination, drowsiness and mood swings, liver damage and heart disease.
  • Marijuana is an addictive drug, although many still believe that it is harmless. It can cause short-term memory impairment, slowed reaction time, lung disease and infertility.
  • While cocaine and crack can speed up performance, their effect is short-lived. More lasting risks are short attention span, irritability and depression, seizure and heart attack.
  • Prescription drugs are often used to reduce stress. However, they are not safe either, unless they are taken as directed. If abused, they can lead to sluggishness or hyperactivity, impaired reflexes, addiction and brain damage.
  • Other drugs, such as PCP, LSD, heroin, mescaline and morphine, have a wide variety of negative health effects — from hallucinations and mental confusion to convulsions and death.

Employee Assistance:

Employees who have problems with alcohol or controlled substances are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Office for referral to counseling or treatment programs. Contacts with Employee Assistance are confidential within limits.

The UW–Madison Employee Assistance Office is located at 610 Langdon Street, Room 226 of the Lowell Center. The office can be contacted at:

Telephone: (608) 263-2987
Fax: (608) 265-3398
TDD: (608) 265-8460


University employees will be subject to disciplinary sanctions, up to and including termination from employment, for violation of these provisions occurring on University property or the work site or during work time. In addition to discipline, or in lieu of it, employees may be referred to appropriate counseling or treatment programs. Disciplinary sanctions are initiated and imposed in accordance with applicable procedural requirements and work rules, as set forth in Wisconsin statutes, administrative rules, faculty and academic staff policies, and collective bargaining agreements. Referral for prosecution under criminal law is also possible. Further, violations of ss. UWS 1806 (13) and 18.10, Wis. Adm. Code may result in additional penalties as allowed under Ch. UWS 18, Wis. Adm. Code.

Employees convicted of any criminal drug statute violation occurring in the work place must notify their dean, director or department chair within five days of the conviction if they are employed by the university at the time of the conviction.


All employees, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to help make the University a drug-free work place. You can do this by learning about substance abuse (its dangers and warning signs), encouraging others to avoid substance abuse, and getting help if you need it — either for yourself or for someone you are concerned about.