Some high school students in Texas are facing serious charges for vaping. After the state raised the legal age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21, several schools have installed technology to detect vaping and brought in dogs that can allegedly sniff the aroma of vaping. If the dogs or technology find evidence that a student is vaping, he or she could face jail or expulsion from school. The anti-vaping efforts target both nicotine vapes and people who are vaping with THC, an ingredient found in cannabis. These intense pressures have led to a 300% increase in students facing discipline for infractions related to tobacco.

While the in-school punishments may seem harsh, especially when expulsion is invoked, they do not stop there. Instead, people may face criminal charges. Texas considers 17-year-olds to be adults in the criminal justice system, and possession of any type of cannabis extract in any amount is considered a felony. Therefore, 17-year-olds found with a THC vape could face a lifelong felony criminal record. At least one student has been jailed and sent to disciplinary school for two months for buying a vape pen that allegedly had CBD oil although police claim that it contained THC. The disciplinary school to which he was sent is intended for students convicted of “serious crimes.”

Parents and some school officials have raised concerns about the severity of the punishments being doled out to teenagers. Rather than being educated about the dangers of vaping, they say, students are having their futures stripped away through felony prosecutions.

People who are faced with drug arrests or charges, no matter how seemingly small, could be forced to deal with heavy fines, jail time or a felony criminal record. A criminal defense attorney may help people to refute police allegations and aim to prevent a conviction.