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Your phone rings and it is the principal of your teen’s school telling you he or she has been caught with, or smoking marijuana. What’s next? This may seem like a cataclysmic moment, maybe even a bit shocking, but try to stay as calm as parently possible. There are a number of important steps to navigate after your kid gets busted for marijuana, and you will need a cool head.
Chances are, this is not your teen’s first time. It is just his or her first time getting caught. And your teen and family is not the first to go through this. Marijuana and overall drug use has declined for kids. But there are still around 5 percent of junior high kids and 14 percent of high schoolers using.
There is a current trend that is important for parents to know. Teens are more likely to use marijuana than cigarettes these days, according to the National Institute of Health.
More importantly, when you teen gets busted for marijuana, you will need to be ready for local school, criminal, and substance abuse consequences that may be coming. From suspension to a criminal record, let’s explore steps you need to take as a parent to protect your teen.
Step 1. Lawyer Up Immediately
This may seem a bit over-the-top, but assuming that the school and state have your teen’s best interest at heart would be a huge mistake. There is no shortage of studies showing the business aspect of the criminal justice and school system. There are also plenty of teens in juvenile jails serving lengthy sentences with violent criminals for possession of drugs.
This makes getting a lawyer for your teen an absolute must. For instance, in Florida, getting caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana can result in up to a year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and even suspension of driving privileges. If your teen has been charged with marijuana possession, a lawyer has the know-how to navigate these strict laws for a teenager.
A lawyer that specializes in drug possession charges can also protect your teen when it comes to state regulated drug treatment programs, state workers looking into your family affairs, and even help with school suspensions or expulsions. A lawyer may even be able to get the charge taken off your teen’s permanent record.
Step 2. Get Your Teen’s Suspension In Writing
Did your teen disobey the rules by taking marijuana on to school grounds? Yes. So there is a bit of disciplinary action coming his or her way. However, the action taken by the school may be unjust or unfair, so get it all in writing. A lawyer can advise on this as well.
Most of the time, the student who is caught with or smoking marijuana at school will be suspended. Get the written suspension letter and guidelines supporting said suspension. The written document should explain everything about the incident and the disciplinary action.
There should also be paperwork on how to appeal the suspension, which could be good for your teen down the road, like during college application time. If expelled right away, do the same.
Step 3. Begin Researching How To Get Your Teen Back To School
Getting your teen back in school should be a priority. The paperwork you get should outline what is needed to get your kid back in the classroom if suspended. Another important part of the suspension is to ensure your teen doesn’t fall behind. Find out what your kid needs to do to stay on track during the suspension.
If your teen plays sports for his or her school, you will need to find out what the consequences will be there as well. Chances are, he or she will be booted from the team, but talking to coaches and school administrators can be helpful in potentially keeping your teen on the team after suspension.
Step 4. Consider Drug Abuse Counseling Or Family Counseling
I know what some of you may be thinking. It’s only marijuana, it’s legal in most states, so what is the big deal. Sure, that is all true and valid. However, this is probably not your kids first time using marijuana. Although it is legal in many states, it is still important to open the dialogue about using drugs.
There could be a deep rooted issue that has caused the drug use. Or it could very well be teen experimentation or peer pressure. Either way, it is best to be safe and open the discussion about marijuana, alcohol, other drug use, safe driving, safe sex, and more. Communication and an open discussion with teens may be challenging, but worth it.
In Conclusion . . .
Getting the call about your teen getting busted for marijuana is not fun. But it is certainly not the end of the world. Your first actions should be aimed at protecting your kid from unjust situations, like criminal charges and school suspensions/expulsions. Even if you are furious, keep a clear head and open the communication channel about the situation.