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Changing marijuana laws may trip up college students

College is a time for experimentation. As a parent, you know this. Your head is not buried in the sand. You are well aware of the fact that your son or daughter might try marijuana. You may also worry about whether one mistake could affect their entire future.

You may even try to stay abreast of the applicable laws in Michigan, but this can prove difficult because they continue to evolve. Ordinances vary from city to city, and even though state or federal laws may take precedence, voters have approved changes in marijuana ordinances in certain sections of the state.

Whether your child could end up facing criminal charges depends on several factors.

Use of weed is on the rise

A nationwide study undertaken at the University of Michigan indicates that the use of illicit drugs among college students has been rising since 2006. Much of this escalation is due to the rise in marijuana use alone. In fact, daily pot smoking is at the highest level in more than 30 years.

In general, people aged 21 and younger simply fail to see marijuana as a problem. Those that feel this way cite the growing list of states that have approved medical marijuana, including Michigan, as well as news reports that cast marijuana in a generally favorable light.

Changing the local laws

In 2015, East Lansing voters approved a charter amendment that changed the city's marijuana ordinances so that the possession, use or transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana on private property is now legal for people 21 years of age or older. In Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, it is now a civil rather than a criminal infraction to be caught with small amounts of pot. However, state and federal laws are still in force on many campuses, including Michigan State and the University of Michigan. The differences in laws may lead to some confusion, but it is up to officials and administrators to ensure that everyone understands who is affected by which law.

Seeking legal assistance

Parents of students who are charged with possession of marijuana should not delay in reaching out for legal assistance for their son or daughter. A charge of this type can disrupt a college career, to say nothing of the residual harm a conviction could cause in a young person's future.

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