Spring breakers who return from Colorado with marijuana may face felony charges

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Students who spend spring break in Colorado risk facing felony charges if they bring marijuana into Texas, said Sylvia Holmes, UT Legal Services for Students attorney.

UT Legal Services for Students, housed in the Office of the Dean of Students, offers free legal counseling to UT students. This ranges from advice on student business startups to dealing with parking tickets. Every year, Holmes said the week after spring break is one of her busiest times of the year.

But during the weeks after spring break, Holmes said the most common legal advice she gives deals with public intoxication and minor in possession charges. But this year, she is concerned she will see students facing felony charges for bringing marijuana back from Colorado, which recently passed a law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

“I want to emphasize to our students they really cannot bring [the marijuana] back,” Holmes said. “If they decide to go up to Colorado, please be safe up there, please be responsible and please remember that you are a young adult. But you cannot bring [the marijuana] back.”

A citizen caught with marijuana in Texas would normally face a misdemeanor charge. But anyone who buys the drug legally in Colorado and illegally brings it into Texas will violate interstate commerce laws. Holmes said this is a felony, and students will face much more serious charges, including much higher fines and possibly probation or jail time.

“I’ve got a hunch that the major highways leading out of Colorado are going to be covered with highway patrols,” Holmes said. “It’s not hard to spot college kid tourists.”

Holmes said if students get in any legal trouble during spring break, they should schedule an appointment with her office online at deanofstudents.utexas.edu/lss/appointment.php before paying any fines or taking any action. She said it is important that students not wait or delay.