Moving out for college can mean throwing caution to the wind and trying things that the newly enrolled student would never have done at home while living with their parents. Most college students will experiment with mind-altering substances, whether they go to a party to drink as a minor or purchase drugs from someone at a social event.

Alcohol consumption can pose legal issues on its own, particularly if the person drinking is under the age of 21 or chooses to get behind the wheel and drive after drinking. However, prohibited, recreational drugs pose a substantial risk for Colorado college students.

Getting caught while under the influence of certain drugs or with drugs in your physical possession could very well mean facing criminal charges and the simultaneous end of your collegiate career.

Even marijuana could result in criminal charges

As the first state to legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana, Colorado saw a massive influx in individuals who wanted to live in the state. There were also plenty of college students hoping to benefit from the change in marijuana prohibition at the state level.

Given Colorado’s position as a leader in marijuana policy reform, many college students might think that there’s no problem with smoking weed with their friends between classes or on the weekend. Unfortunately, for those students who are not 21 and therefore do not have protection under the legalization statute, getting caught with marijuana in their possession or bodies could mean criminal charges that end their college career.

A marijuana criminal charge may seem minor in a state that allows adults to smoke the substance, but the issue isn’t with the state government. It is with federal standards. Anyone convicted of a drug offense loses their eligibility for any kind of federal student aid. That includes students who don’t comply with the specific wording of the law in legal cannabis states.

Prescription drugs can also put you in serious legal and academic danger

Beyond the incorrect assumption that marijuana offenses don’t matter anymore in Colorado, many college students seem to think they will get a free pass on illegal drug use if the substance in question is a legal prescription.

Students may abuse psychiatric medication, painkillers, ADHD drugs, which are powerful stimulants, or even erectile dysfunction drugs for recreational purposes. If you get caught in possession of a prescription drug that is not yours or if law enforcement officers catch you using the drug in a way that is contrary to how the doctor prescribed it, such as grinding up and inhaling it instead of swallowing it, they can charge you with a violation of the state’s Controlled Substances Act.

A conviction will have the same implications as any other drug offense, which could mean the loss of your enrollment status in college and the loss of your federal student aid, to say nothing of the criminal consequences which could include jail time, fines and other penalties.