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College marijuana use and legal risks under Ohio law

It is no secret that marijuana use is fairly common on college and university campuses in Ohio and across the country. College students can sometimes feel immune from negative consequences, but Ohio law imposes serious consequences for anyone convicted of marijuana-associated crimes like possession or driving under the influence of drugs.

Last week, the federal government published a report about its recent study of drug and alcohol use among college and university students. On the average day during the past year, 703,759 fulltime U.S. college students aged 18 to 22 used marijuana, according to findings by The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality or CBHSQ, part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA.

Of those fulltime college students using marijuana on an average day in the past year, 1,299 of them used the drug for the first time.

The agency based its conclusions on sources like the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, known as the NSDUH. Estimates in the report are based on annual averages of data from 2011 through 2014.

Northwest Ohio is home to the University of Toledo and other colleges. Ohio college students are no different than others so the use of pot certainly occurs on and around Ohio campuses. It is important to remember, however, that even a student can face severe consequences that can include jail time, fines, driver's license suspension and more for violation of Ohio laws criminalizing behavior related to marijuana. In addition, there may be negative repercussions related to university standing and to the social stigma of having a criminal record. Future challenges related to graduate school, federal student loans, employment and professional licensing may also develop.

These Ohio laws are summarized here by the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws or NORML. Although crimes related to very small amounts of marijuana are minor misdemeanors (which normally do not create a criminal record) or misdemeanors in Ohio, the severity of punishment quickly increases with the amount of marijuana involved. State crimes include possession, sale, distribution, trafficking, possession or sale of paraphernalia, and drugged driving.

It is extremely important that any Ohio college student who faces a university or law enforcement investigation or charge related to marijuana consult a criminal defense lawyer immediately to launch a vigorous defense and deal with school and police authorities on behalf of the student. Depending on the circumstances, the lawyer can work to minimize the consequences of the situation such as fighting to get any charges dismissed, negotiating an alternative like treatment or aggressively fighting the charges at trial, if necessary, as well as advocating for minimal punishment in case of a conviction.

The lawyers at Mahaffey & Associates, LLC, serve college students in northwest Ohio facing investigations or charges related to marijuana, alcohol or other substances.

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