961 Frowns on 420
Sarah McQueen
smcqu643@uwsp.edu

As everyone knows, the use of marijuana is illegal in Wisconsin, and those caught with it will face consequences. But what are those consequences, and are they any worse for students caught with this substance on a college campus?

The University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point follows the state law, which states that possession of marijuana, or any drug paraphernalia, is a violation of the law. Drug paraphernalia is defined in chapter 961.571 of Wisconsin legislature as all materials of any kind that are used or could be used in any connection to a controlled substance. The statute further states that an individual may be fined up to $500 and or be put in jail for up to 30 days for the passion of drug paraphernalia.

Students who are caught with marijuana in the residence halls will most likely suffer consequences. The Residential Living’s drug policy states that the university will deal, in a serious manner, with any student who is involved in the use, possession or sale of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia.

“We don’t have anything that is set, like this automatically equals this, but if marijuana is found, Protective Services is brought in immediately, so there might be some legal ramifications. Typically, there might be some probation and education as well,” said Kirsten Hoffenberger, who is the coordinator for Student Rights and Affairs.

If Protective Services is called, they speak with the student or students who are suspected of possessing marijuana to determine whether or not they are in possession. If the officer has probable cause to believe that a student has marijuana, that officer is allowed to conduct a search and seizure. A search and seizure can include a search of personal items such as bags, vehicles or rooms. Probable cause to believe a student might be in possession can include visible smoke, smoke which smells different than that of a cigarette or paraphernalia such as a pipe.

The penalties for being caught with marijuana vary, depending on the amount of substance found, prior offences and even the cooperation of the offender. If it appears someone has the intent to distribute the drug, they may be charged with a felony. If it is a first-time offence and only minimal substance is found, a person might get away with as little as a $200 citation and no mandatory court date.

Students who are caught using marijuana in their vehicles may face greater consequences than if they are caught in their rooms or elsewhere on campus. Although it may seem like a private place, it is also highly visible, and anyone caught sitting behind the wheel, showing signs of impairment or having any levels of substance in their blood stream can be charged with operating while intoxicated. In a situation like that, a student could get a citation for possession as well as an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated).

For students who wish to talk to someone about any kind of drug, tobacco, or alcohol use, they can obtain peer assistance and education through the Student Health Promotion Office. Further details on the laws regarding drug possession can be found online in chapter 961 of the Wisconsin Legislative documents.