Illegal Drugs

The Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to maintaining a drug-free work and campus environment in compliance with The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendment (DFSCA) of 1989

Applicable MCW corporate policies:

Medical College of Wisconsin policies and procedures, including the enforcement practices of Public Safety, are consistent with applicable local, state, and federal laws regarding the possession, use, and/or sale of illegal drugs. 

State of Wisconsin Legal Sanctions

The Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Chapter 961 of the Wisconsin State Statutes, regulates controlled substances and outlines specific penalties for the violation of the regulations. A first-time conviction for possession of a controlled substance can result in a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 (Wis. Stat. 961.41(3g)). A person convicted of manufacturing a controlled substance, delivering a controlled substance, or possessing a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver, can be imprisoned for up to 40 years and fined up to $100,000 (Wis. Stats. 961.41(1) and (1m)). Penalties vary according to the type of drug involved, the amount of drug confiscated, the number of previous convictions, and the presence of any aggravating factors.

The distribution of a controlled substance to a minor may result in the increase of the applicable maximum term of imprisonment for that offense by not more than five years (Wis. Stat.961.46).

Federal Legal Sanctions

Pursuant to federal law, the United States Sentencing Guidelines establish mandatory minimum penalties for categories of drug offenses and provide for penalty enhancements in specific cases. Under these federal guidelines, courts can sentence a person for up to 6 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; and possession of more than 5 grams of cocaine can trigger an intent to distribute penalty of 10-16 years in prison.

Following are the federal penalties and sanctions for illegal possession of controlled substances:

21 U.S.C. 844(a) 
1st conviction: Up to 1 year imprisonment and fined at least $1,000 but not more than $100,000, or both.   
After 1 prior drug conviction: At least 15 days in prison, not to exceed 2 years and find at least $2,500 but not more than $250,000, or both.  
After 2 or more prior drug convictions: At least 90 days in prison, but not to exceed 3 years and fined at least $5,000 but not more than $250,000, or both. 

21 U.S.C. 853(a)(2) and 881(a)(7) 
Forfeiture of personal and real property used to possess or to facilitate possession of a controlled substance if that offense is punishable by more than 1 year imprisonment. (See special sentencing provisions re: cocaine, above). 

21 U.S.C. 881(a)(4) 
Forfeiture of vehicles, boats, aircraft or any other conveyance used to transport or conceal a controlled substance. 

21 U.S.C. 844a 
Civil fine of up to $10,000.

21 U.S.C. 862 
Denial of Federal benefits, such as student loans, grants, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses, up to 1 year for first offense, up to 5 years for second and subsequent offenses.

18 U.S.C. 922(g) 
Ineligible to purchase, receive or transport a firearm. Miscellaneous Revocation of certain Federal licenses and benefits, e.g. pilot licenses, public housing tenancy, etc., are vested within the authorities of individual Federal agencies.

Note: These are only Federal penalties and sanctions. Additional State penalties and sanctions may apply.

Health Effects of Alcohol & Other Drugs: Summary

The following is a partial list of drugs and the consequences of their use. The abuse of alcohol and the use of other drugs are detrimental to the health of the user. Further, the use of drugs and alcohol is not conducive to an academic atmosphere. Drugs impede the learning process and can cause disruption for other students and disturb their academic interests. The use of alcohol or drugs in the workplace may also impede the employee’s ability to perform in a safe and effective manner, and may result in injuries to others. Early diagnosis and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse is in the best interests of employees, students, and MCW itself. 

For additional information concerning the health risks associated with substances covered by the Controlled Substances Act, view the Drug Fact Sheets on the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration website.  

Anabolic Steroids

Concerns over a growing illicit market and prevalence of abuse, combined with the possibility of long-term effects of steroid use, led Congress to place anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Although the adverse effects of large doses of multiple anabolic steroids are not well established, there is increasing evidence of serious health problems associated with the abuse of these agents, including cardiovascular damage, liver damage and damage to reproductive organs. Physical side effects include elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, severe acne, premature balding, reduced sexual function and testicular atrophy.

The CSA defines anabolic steroids as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, and coricosteroids), that promotes muscle growth. Those commonly encountered on the illicit market include: boldenone (Equipoise), ethylestrenol Maxibolin), fluoxymesterone (Halotestin), methandriol, methandrostenolone (Dianabol), methytestosterone, nandrolone (Durabolin, Deca-Durabolin), oxandrolone (Anavar), oxymetholone (Anadrol), stanozolol (Winstrol), testosterone and trenbolone (Finajet).


Three drugs that come from cannabis (marijuana, hashish, and hashish oil) are currently distributed on the U.S. illicit market. These drugs are detrimental to the health and impair the short-term memory and comprehension of the user. When used, they alter the sense of time and reduce the ability of the user to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination. They also increase the heart rate and appetite.  Motivation and cognition can be altered, making acquisition and retention of new information difficult.  

Long-term users may develop psychological dependence that can produce paranoia and psychosis. Because cannabis products are usually inhaled as unfiltered smoke, they are damaging to the lungs and pulmonary system and contain more cancer-causing agents than tobacco.


Depressants produce central nervous system depression. Depressants (i.e., barbiturates, benzodiazepines, glutethimide, methqualone, and meprobamate) can cause physical and psychological dependence that can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death, especially when used simultaneously with alcohol. Withdrawal can lead to restlessness, insomnia, convulsions, and even death. Chloral hydrate, a hypnotic depressant, and alcohol constitute the infamous date rape drug or "Mickey Finn." 


LSD, PCP, mescaline, and peyote are classified as hallucinogens. Hallucinogens interrupt the brain messages that control the intellect and keep instincts in check. Large doses can produce convulsions and coma, and heart and lung failure. Chronic users complain of persistent memory problems and speech difficulties for up to a year after their use. Because the drug stops the brain’s pain sensors, drug experiences may result in severe self-inflicted injuries. Persistent memory problems and speech difficulties may linger. 


The term narcotic derives from the Greek word for stupor. Narcotic use is associated with a variety of unwanted effects, including drowsiness, inability to concentrate, apathy, lessened physical activity, constriction of the pupils, dilation of the subcutaneous blood vessels causing flushing of the face and neck, constipation, nausea and vomiting and, most significantly, respiratory depression. With repeated use of narcotics, tolerance and dependence develop. Users of narcotics such as heroin, codeine, morphine, and opium are susceptible to overdose that can lead to convulsions, coma, and death.


Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. "Crack" is the smokeable free-base form of cocaine. These drugs stimulate the central nervous system and are extremely addictive. They can cause psychological and physical dependency. Stimulants can lead to dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, paranoia, and seizures. They can also cause death by disrupting the brain’s control of the heart and respiration. The use of amphetamines and other stimulants can have the same effect as cocaine and cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that can result in a stroke or heart failure. Side effects include dizziness, sleeplessness, and anxiety. They can also lead to hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis, and even a physical collapse. Nicotine is a highly addictive stimulant, whether ingested by smoking or chewing. This drug affects the brain in six seconds and damages the lungs, decreases heart strength, and is associated with many types of cancers when ingested by smoking.

The withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances. MCW encourages employees and students who have substance abuse problems or concerns to seek confidential counseling and/or referral services. Students may contact Student Health Services at (414) 805.6644 or Student Mental Health Services at (414) 955-8933. Employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program at (866) 757-3271. IMPACT Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, Inc. can also provide referrals to students and employees by calling (414) 256-4808. Further information can be found on MCW's Office of Human Resources intranet page regarding policy HR.ER.060 - Drug Free Workplace

MCW – Milwaukee

Public Safety personnel have the authority to enforce MCW policy and rules, but are not certified law enforcement officers. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office has full law enforcement authority, including the powers to arrest and detain. 

Violation of MCW Corporate Policies by employees will result in appropriate actions up to and including separation from employment. Students who violate MCW policy will face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from MCW. In the event of a violation, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program may be required.  

MCW – Green Bay

St. Norbert College prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of illicit drugs on college property or as part of college activities.

Violation of MCW Corporate Policies by employees will result in appropriate actions up to and including separation from employment. Students who violate MCW policy will face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from MCW. In the event of a violation, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program may be required.

MCW - Central Wisconsin

Aspirus Wausau Hospital prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of illicit drugs on hospital property or as part of hospital activities.

Violation of MCW Corporate Policies by MCW employees may result in appropriate actions up to and including separation from employment. MCW students who violate MCW policy or medical school policy may face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from MCW. In the event of a violation, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program may be required.


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