The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
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Marijuana charges for college students could end their education

Every year, more states take steps to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. While Louisiana has legalized marijuana for medical purposes, the average college student doesn't have a real medical reason to smoke or otherwise ingest marijuana. For most college students, experimenting with marijuana is relatively harmless. Unfortunately, hundreds of teens and young adults in their early twenties get arrested for possession of marijuana.

Lax social attitudes about marijuana lead a lot of young people to think that smoking marijuana socially at college isn't going to be an issue. For those who get caught with it, however, there's real potential for criminal charges and penalties, as well as serious social and educational consequences for drug convictions.

Louisiana has not legalized recreational marijuana

It's important for college students and those aspiring to college to realize that the state hasn't legalized the adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Those who get caught in possession or under the influence of marijuana could face criminal prosecution, fines, jail and other penalties.

At first glance, Louisiana has more lenient penalties for marijuana offenses. First-time offenders who have 14 grams or less face up to 15 days in jail and a fine of $300. First-time offenders with more than 14 grams but less than 2.5 pounds face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

For all second offenses with less than 2.5 pounds of marijuana, the penalties include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. While that may seem more reasonable than penalties in other nearby states, that doesn't mean that pleading guilty to a marijuana offense is a good idea.

A criminal record from drugs is hard to shake

Pleading guilty to avoid court is a common strategy. Prosecutors may offer minimum sentencing or reduced penalties for those who plead guilty, which can provide an incentive to do so. However, if a college student or soon-to-be college student pleads guilty to a drug offense, the hope for their future education practically disappears.

Federal student aid is not available to those with drug offenses on their criminal records. Even possession of a small amount of marijuana with no secondary charges could keep a bright and promising student from receiving grants or federally-subsidized student loans. While many schools do offer scholarships, colleges and universities may also hesitate to extend entrance or scholarships to those with criminal records.

Beyond college issues, a drug conviction can impact the ability to find a job or even secure housing in the future. For many people, especially students, facing minor drug charges, a defense strategy may offer hope for a better outcome than a plea deal.

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The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
123 Saint Ferdinand Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Phone: 225-424-7388
Fax: 225-334-7824
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