Contributor: W. Travis Stewart, LPC, NCC writer for Addiction Hope
During the September 16, 2015 Republican Presidential Debate a question was raised about marijuana use and its effect on others. Senator Paul Rand, at one point, stated “I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual”. Carly Fiorina responded that drug use does affect others and shared that she had lost a child “to drug addiction” (her daughter Lori died in 2009 from struggles with alcohol, prescription pills and bulimia).
Regardless of your political persuasion or stance on legalizing marijuana, this raises questions about the impact of using substances. In particular, let’s look more closely at the effect of criminal charges on the life of the individual.
Fines and criminal charges are going to vary from state to state and can be intimidating and confusing to understand. To best understand your states drug laws you will need to do some personal research.
As an example, let’s consider the State of Missouri, which has some of the tougher drug laws in the country. In Missouri, most simple possession charges are felony level drug offenses. What this means in Missouri is that if you are caught in possession of any drug other than marijuana you will be charged with a Class C Felony, which carry up to a 7 year prison sentence and $5,000 in fines.
For marijuana, if you are caught with 35 grams or less, you will be charge with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine. If it is more than 35 grams you will face felony charges.
Trafficking and dealing drugs carry much stiffer penalties and will find individuals in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws. The government takes this much more seriously and the penalties are higher. To see a full list of these penalties read this report from the Federation of American Scientists: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL30722.pdf
Consequences of a Conviction
Beyond the potential jail time and fines, a drug conviction on your record can have far reaching consequences. For example, the 1990 Denial of Federal Benefits Program allows state and federal judges to deny drug offenders federal benefits like professional licenses and government contracts. The 1998 Higher Education Act can limit college students from receiving federal financial aid for a period length of time depending upon the type and number of convictions they have faced. Similarly, many college scholarships will not consider applicants who have drug convictions on their records.
Convictions potentially have long-term consequences for individuals and while the person convicted is the one facing time in prison or fines, the emotional and relational impact affects family members, friends and potentially even children.
Don’t’ wait to get help until you are facing criminal charges. Get help today. To get started use our treatment locator https://www.addictionhope.com/treatment.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
Have you or your loved faced legal ramifications from crimes committed while suffering from your drug addiction? What steps have you taken towards rehabilitation and reconciliation?
About the author:
Travis Stewart earned a Master of Arts in Counseling (2001) and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (2003), both from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO. Travis is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Missouri and a writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals. We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 9, 2015, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com