The use of electric cigarettes and vaping products has rapidly grown among teenagers over the past few years.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a 2018 survey involving more than 44,000 students. Roughly 37 percent of 12 graders reported that they used vaping products in 2018 — up from 28 percent in 2017. A recent epidemic of lung illnesses and deaths has made national headlines, prompting nationwide crackdowns on teen vaping.
Teens could face lifelong consequences
In Texas, the measures taken to crack down on teen vaping may be, rather, draconian. According to The Texas Tribune, schools all over the Lone Star State are employing a method that can result in harsh, and potentially lifelong, consequences for teens caught using vaping products. Some measures cited in the article include installing vape-detecting technology with sensors similar to smoke alarms and using drug-sniffing dogs.
When vape pens or e-cigarettes containing THC are detected, police are called in. Students who are arrested for possession of THC-based vaping products are now facing felony charges.
According to Texas Education Agency data, the number of incidents involving student arrests or expulsions has more than doubled within the past year.
One student from Austin was arrested after being reported to the school principal. The principal contacted law enforcement, who then performed an on-site drug test.
The student purchased the vaping pen off a classmate. He initially believed that the pen contained CBD, which he thought would help him relax.
The student was then placed under arrest. Since he was 17 years old, he was deemed an adult by the Texas criminal justice system. He spent two months in a county-run disciplinary school. The student faced felony charges, which if convicted, could have result in years of incarceration. Luckily, since the drug test was "inconclusive," his charges were dropped.
Why THC oil is different than marijuana
Unlike many other states, THC oil (and all other cannabis products) is illegal in Texas. Marijuana possession in Texas usually results in misdemeanor charges — at worst, a first-degree felony charge. Anyone in possession of THC oil (which is far more potent than marijuana) could face felony charges.
That's because THC oil is considered a Penalty Group 2 controlled substance in Texas. Possession of less than one gram can result in a state jail felony, which is punishable by two years in county jail and/or a fine as high as $10,000. The penalties increase for:
1-4 grams: Third-degree felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
4-400 grams: Second-degree felony, which carries up to 20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
400 Grams or More: First-degree felony, which can carry life in prison, and/or fines up to $50,000.
A felony charge in Texas can have life-long consequences. Even after serving time, people with prior convictions can face unfavorable odds when searching for employment, attending college, or finding housing.
That's why you need a strong legal advocate on your side who can help you fight the charges. The Webb Firm, P.C. serves clients in Montgomery County, Texas and the surrounding communities. Contact us online today to find out how we can help you.