What Are The Hidden Consequences of a Marijuana Conviction?

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522


In some circles, the stigma associated with a marijuana conviction is fading. Though we are far from the day where the consumption of marijuana is socially or professionally acceptable in Texas, our law-makers have recognized shifting public opinion and the slowly diminishing disincentive to refrain from possessing or using marijuana. In response, our legislators have engineered possession of marijuana consequences that carry a little more oomph than the typical misdemeanor. Unfortunately some lawyers fail to discuss these very important consequences because they occur outside of the normal plea negotiation process and usually several months down the road, i.e. they are “hidden.” Before accepting any plea offer which involves a conviction, a person charged with Possession of Marijuana should consider the following:

Hidden Consequence of Marijuana Conviction #1: Driver’s License Suspension

Section 521.372 of the Texas Transportation Code provides for an automatic license suspension or license denial upon one single conviction of a drug offense. The length of this driver’s license suspension will depend. At a minimum, a person’s license is suspended for 180 days. However, the law permits the Department of Public Safety to indefinitely suspend a person’s license until the suspended individual completes a drug offender educational program. For individuals who have not obtained a Texas driver’s license. An automatic suspension period of 180 days will begin from the first date you seek to obtain a license.

Hidden Consequence of Marijuana Conviction #2: Student Financial Aid

In the 1990s Congress placed prohibitions or restrictions on student financial aid for students or potential students with drug convictions. This heavy handed consequence prevented many would-be students from attending or graduating from college. Under this law, with just one single possession of marijuana conviction a student would be ineligible for Perkins Loans, Pell Grants, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Plus Loans, and Work-Study Programs for a period of one year. In 2006, Congress scaled this law back somewhat by limiting prohibitions and ineligibility to students who are both: (1) actually enrolled, and (2) receiving federal aid.

Students who may be wondering whether they are affected by a marijuana conviction can go to the FAFSA website and complete the worksheet on drug convictions. The FAFSA worksheet simplifies the legislation into 10 simple questions and is well worth taking a look if you are a person facing a potential conviction for possession of marijuana.

What an Attorney Can Do?

The best way to avoid the hidden consequences of a marijuana conviction is to avoid the conviction altogether. While some lawyers (including myself) like to think they work with a magic wand, the task is sometimes easier said than done. When the writing is on the wall and a conviction is inevitable or highly probable there are specific actions which can be taken to ease the burden of these sorts of consequences. For instance, a person whose license is suspended because of a marijuana conviction may petition the Court for an occupational driver’s license. Any attorney handling a possession of marijuana case should be able to incorporate this contingency with his/her representation.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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