Texas High Schoolers Are Being Jailed on Felony Charges For Vaping 😱

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Any adult over age 21 can buy delta-8 and delta-9 vapes legally in the state of Texas but if the Smithson Valley High School catches one of its students with one… they may end up in county jail, facing felony charges that would follow them the rest of their life!

School Officials & Law Enforcement Paying Students $100 to Snitch 🙂

School officials and local law enforcement are attempting to stymie the sometimes dangerous youth vaping craze by drawing a hard line. Students are offered $100 for anonymously reporting classmates with THC vape pens to the police.

And since sheriff’s deputies assigned to the schools often can tell if a vape pen contains THC, but not whether it’s delta-8 or the illegal delta-9 cannabis oil, they assume the worst, slap on the cuffs and leave it for someone else to figure out.

That’s what happened to Myles Leon, a Smithson Valley senior arrested at school in October with what he says was a delta-8 vape pen. At 17, he is considered an adult in Texas’ criminal system, facing a felony charge based on the as yet unproven assumption that the vape pen he was caught holding might have contained the illegal delta-9.

“They instantly just think it’s [illegal] THC. I don’t think they really care about the difference,” Myles said in December, hunched next to his mother on their living room couch. “Because even I said that it was delta-8 and it didn’t matter. They’re still gonna arrest me anyways.”

Texas Legalized Hemp in 2019

When Texas legalized hemp in 2019, the lower-potency THC naturally found in small amounts in the cannabis plant — delta-8 — suddenly no longer fit the state’s definition of illegal marijuana and THC. The market capitalized on the notion of a legal strain of THC, and companies began boosting the concentration of delta-8 to make hemp-derived vape pens and edibles that produce a high similar to pot.

The legality of these lab-produced delta-8 products is still under scrutiny, but for more than a year, stores and users have freely sold and purchased them without issue. If teens get caught with vape pens that are proven to contain only delta-8, the worst criminal penalty they would most likely face would be a ticket, similar to getting caught with cigarettes or alcohol.

But delta-9 THC, the most prolific psychoactive compound in marijuana cannabis plants, remained illegal in Texas in concentrations higher than 0.3%. Vape pens with marijuana-derived extracts are legal in many states, like New Mexico and Colorado, but not in Texas, and the criminal punishments for such derivatives are harsher than for marijuana.

Possession of even one illegal THC vape pen can carry a punishment of up to 10 years in prison and a lifelong label that makes it more difficult to get into college, get a job or find housing. Having up to 4 ounces of flower marijuana is a misdemeanor.

High Schoolers Getting Arrested Without Knowing What Their Vape Pens Contained

In Comal County, deputies have arrested students on felony charges, not knowing what their vape pens actually contained.

Finishing up his senior year of high school, Myles works weekends at the local barbecue restaurant, and he’s trying to decide on a major at his community college in the fall. He’s also waiting to see if he will be indicted.

After his arrest in October, several teachers wrote to the principal advocating leniency, each describing Myles as a model student who made a mistake. Still, being caught with a suspected felony drug on campus, he was expelled for 30 days and sent to a disciplinary school for the rest of the fall semester.

Myles’ mom, Amy Leon, said she doesn’t want her kid smoking, and she and her husband grounded Myles after his arrest. But more than that, she is livid that the school handed her child off to police for what she deems overly harsh treatment. She has been pushing the school since to add more preventive programming — to help kids instead of tossing them in jail.

“Obviously he shouldn’t be doing this on school grounds, but shoot, this is intense,” Leon said. “If he was rolling a joint in the school, it would have been a lot better.”

Harsh Penalties & Felonies for High Schoolers?

Comal ISD officials said administrative disciplinary measures, including expulsion, are clearly outlined in school policy and state standards. As far as law enforcement’s involvement, Assistant Superintendent Corbee Wunderlich said district officials approach sheriff’s deputies because students pass vape pens around and get dangerously high at school. Plus, school employees can’t tell whether the substance is illegal.

“We want to know what it is, number one,” Wunderlich said. “And we don’t want it to endanger our students on our campuses.”

The district and sheriff’s office also work with the local Crime Stoppers affiliate, which pays for anonymous tips that lead to arrests, created as a way for people to send in tips about things like murders for which police had no suspects. In Comal ISD, tips are often received for vapes and dab pens, which heat wax instead of oil, according to Jakob Willmann, the sheriff’s office coordinator for the program.

A vape pen report that leads to an arrest gets you $100, delivered anonymously via code words and locations, Willmann said.

Read full story on YahooNews

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