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Marijuana charges could end your time in college

For many young people, college is a time of experimenting and learning through both real-world experience and classroom instruction. Many college students begin experimenting with mind-altering substances in college, including alcohol. Quite a few will also consider trying marijuana, often in a social setting like a party. For most college students, experimenting with alcohol and other drugs is harmless.

For a small percentage, however, getting caught while under the influence of drugs or in possession of them could have life-altering consequences. Students may hope to receive lenient treatment, but both campus safety and traditional law enforcement officers may choose to arrest and charge students for possession of even the smallest amount of marijuana. Those who get caught could find that a little experimentation could very well derail their plans for the future.

Marijuana is still against the law in Tennessee

Although many states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use or medical use, Tennessee is not one of them. While Tennessee does have a medical marijuana law on the books, it only allows for people with specific conditions to use a concentrated marijuana oil low in THC and high in CBD. There are also no provisions for allowing people to make it or buy it in the state.

In other words, even those with a serious medical need will have to buy marijuana from out of state, and bringing it across the state border is a federal offense.

College admission and financial aid are at risk

Many people may think that marijuana possession is a minor crime. That could result in entering a guilty plea to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of court. Choosing to plead guilty could have consequences that haunt you for years or even the rest of your life. Even if you only face misdemeanor charges, the criminal record that results could prove devastating.

Generally speaking, those with any kind of drug conviction on their record cannot receive any kind of federal funding for college. That includes grants, federal scholarships and even federally-backed student loans. For the average student, that can make paying for college impossible.

For those with no previous criminal record, there may be potential for an expungement in the future that could allow them to qualify for federal student aid at a later date. However, expungements take time and often require a waiting period that could end your college plans for good.

Beyond losing the potential for education funding, there is also the risk of losing school scholarships or even the right to attend your college. Many schools have strict codes of ethics that require students to obey state, local and federal laws.

These codes are often even stricter when it comes to those receiving scholarships or other funding from the college. Once you enter a guilty plea, your school could end your enrollment or even rescind your scholarships, leaving you unable to continue your education.

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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