Drug Legislation Lingers
Arkansas legislators voted last year to quadruple the amount of marijuana a person can have on them before receiving a felony, but the UA does not deal with many arrests involving drugs, a police official said.
In the past, a person found with one ounce or more of marijuana was charged with a felony. The amount was increased to four ounces before a person is charged with a felony, said Sgt. Craig Stout, spokesperson for Fayetteville Police Department. A person who has less that four ounces of marijuana can be charged with a felony if the drug is packaged in a way that looks like it is made to be sold, he said.
This change occurred during the last legislative session that took place during the spring of 2011, said Lt. Gary Crain, UA police spokesperson.
The most common drug found on campus is marijuana and most of the people arrested for drugs on campus are not students, Crain said.
UA police officers were not affected by this change, Crain said.
“We don’t have many felony arrest anyway,” he said.
In recent years, drug arrest practices of local law enforcement have been challenged.
In 2008, the activist group Sensible Fayetteville made a resolution that drug arrests should be a low priority for law enforcement, according to their Facebook.
But drug arrests are not really a question of priority, Crain said. When officers see a violation being committed, they will make an arrest.
Students who are arrested for drugs are taken to Washington County Jail, but they also face penalties from the university judicial system, Crain said.
No UAPD officer has the specific goal of finding students with drugs. Most drug arrests are made as a secondary offense, he said. For example, a police officer will stop a person for speeding and after smelling drugs, arrest him or her for that offense.
In March, eight people were arrested for drugs on campus, Crain said. In 2010, before the amount of marijuana a person could have on them changed, 72 people were arrested for drugs on campus, according to the Clery Report.
The resolution made by Sensible Fayetteville has not changed the way that the Fayetteville Police Department does business, Stout said .
Fayetteville police officers also normally find drugs during another offense, he said.
“In my career, I wasn’t ever gonna go look for a misdemeanor drug charge,” said Stout. “[Drugs are] very rarely the sole charge.”
Most drug arrests in Fayetteville are for marijuana and are misdemeanor charges, Stout said.
Marijuana is easier to detect because of its smell odor. Some new prescriptions drugs are harder to detect because they do not have an odor and there is not any paraphernalia involved, he said.