At least four students over the past several months have been arrested in campus dorms for possession of marijuana.
According to ACU Police, two students in Mabee Hall were arrested in October; one student was arrested in Edwards Hall in November; and another student in Mabee Hall was arrested on Jan. 9.
Those students arrested have been taken by ACUPD to the Taylor County Jail on varying charges of possession. The students were later disciplined by the Office of Student Life for violating ACU’s drug policy, ACU Chief of Police Jimmy Ellison.
Ellison said while he can’t be certain, he attributes the upswing in drug-related calls on campus to two factors.
“Any increase could be attributed to greater awareness by Residence Life staff and students,” Ellison said. “The other reason for this could be that marijuana use is becoming more prevalent among young people across the country. I’d say it’s probably a combination of both.”
Dr. Bob Strader, director of Residence Life Education and Housing, said his staff is trained to identify the signs and smells of marijuana use as well as what to do if a resident might be in possession.
“We are the most involved in noticing if students are using,” Strader said.
After a member of the Residence Life staff makes a call to ACUPD, the decision has to be made whether to inform the dean of students, Mark Lewis, who will investigate and make disciplinary actions on behalf of the university, Strader said.
Despite changing laws in some states that allow marijuana use for recreational or medical purposes, Texas continues to take a decisive anti-marijuana stance. If the amount of marijuana is less than two ounces, possession is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000. If the amount is between two and four ounces, possession is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. Possession of greater amounts is a felony, which can result in significantly greater jail time. Ellison said most student possessions in the dorms have been Class B misdemeanors, but some have been Class A.
“It is a crime in Texas, regardless of the amount,” Ellison said. “We’ve dealt with individuals from Colorado and California who claim that the substance is legal where they come from. But that doesn’t matter. We have to enforce whatever law is in place here.”
ACU’s “zero-tolerance” policy is in accordance with local and federal laws, and a violation could result in students losing scholarships or federal assistance according to the student handbook.
“ACU’s policy and the law are there for the protection of students,” Strader said. “Following the law is the best way to live in community.”