Dirk Padgett Law PLLC
Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney / Former Military Prosecutor / Former Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney

The unforeseen consequences of drug possession in college

For many young adults, college it is time of self exploration, which often includes trying substances such as alcohol and drugs. With the outbreak of the opioid epidemic and legalization of marijuana in several states, recreational substance use is nearing record highs.

Marijuana use steadily rising

A report from the University of Michigan outlined substance abuse on college campuses. The findings showed marijuana use among college students in the U.S. was the highest it has been in three decades. For the majority, alcohol remains the substance of choice, however 22 percent of students reported using marijuana in the last 30 days and 4.9 percent of students reported daily use.

Drug possession leads to additional charges

Public attitude towards marijuana use has shifted, with younger generations believing it to be a low risk substance with minimal repercussions. While many consider the use of marijuana relatively harmless, a drug possession charge can have unintended consequences.

In Virginia, the penalty for possession of two ounces or less of cannabis is up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. In addition to the possibility of criminal charges, college students facing drug charges are at risk for academic repercussions.

  • Academic probation or suspension: Drug policies on campuses vary widely, but academic suspension or probation is a common consequence of possession. Drug use has been linked to poor academic performance and schools will often use that as the reason for the suspension.
  • Loss of financial aid: Drug charges can jeopardize academic aid and scholarships. Students with criminal charges have limited eligibility for financial aid. Eligibility for federal financial aid can be regained by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests.
  • Limited graduate school options: For those looking to pursue and advanced degree, a criminal charge can limit graduate school options. Applicants may be asked to disclose any offenses while some schools simply choose to run background checks. While some institutions will turn down an applicant outright others will still offer the student consideration, but a tainted record will lessen the applicant’s chances.

College is meant to be an exciting time for students, a place to prepare them for the future. Those facing drug charges may feel their future slipping away, but speaking with an attorney can help prevent the hardship of a conviction.

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He Prosecuted Al Qaeda.
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Throughout Mr. Padgett's career, he has worked on cases covering a wide variety of offenses, from white collar crime and larceny to war crimes and capital murder. In 2009, he served as lead prosecutor in the trial of Ibrahim al Qosi, an al Qaeda member and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, at Guantanamo Bay Prison.

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