Marijuana Possession Infraction and Odds of Acceptance

Dec 27, 2013
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Hey Guys,

So I was given an infraction for possession of marijuana in CA. I'm 21, and the officer cited me with a health and safety infraction (told me it was no more harmful than a speeding ticket). Looked it up and saw it's a minor 100 dollar fine and no posts on a criminal record.

I'm a fourth year, with a 3.8 GPA and numerous research publications and community service records. I was wondering if this would in anyway ruin my chances at entering medical school. I understand that everyone has their own subjective views on marijuana usage, so I ask that any advice be purely objective.

Thanks

-S
 

TeddyBoomBoom

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Hey Guys,

So I was given an infraction for possession of marijuana in CA. I'm 21, and the officer cited me with a health and safety infraction (told me it was no more harmful than a speeding ticket). Looked it up and saw it's a minor 100 dollar fine and no posts on a criminal record.

I'm a fourth year, with a 3.8 GPA and numerous research publications and community service records. I was wondering if this would in anyway ruin my chances at entering medical school. I understand that everyone has their own subjective views on marijuana usage, so I ask that any advice be purely objective.

Thanks

-S
I was arrested for possession of a small ($10) amount of marijuana. It came up briefly in one of my interviews, but no one could hardly have cared less. However, it was 15 yrs ago in my case, lol.
 

Pacna

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I think it clearly counts against you, but it's definitely not condemning.

If they're deciding between you and another applicant who they like just as much, they'll pick him/her due to this. Other than that, I doubt it will matter.
 

DokterMom

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Why did the officer search you in the first place? Were you under the influence? Smoking or buying in public? Walking out of a medical MJ dispensary? Driving?

Do be prepared for those questions. The recency ma y be an issue, but the crime itself is small potatoes.
 

LizzyM

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I would not expect to be an application killer but it could make it just a bit more difficult. As I've said in the past, too many adcom members came of age in the 60s and 70s - we'd be hypocrites if we denied admission to everyone who was ever in possession of pot.
 
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CarlosDanger

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Jul 25, 2013
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Hey Guys,

So I was given an infraction for possession of marijuana in CA. I'm 21, and the officer cited me with a health and safety infraction (told me it was no more harmful than a speeding ticket). Looked it up and saw it's a minor 100 dollar fine and no posts on a criminal record.

I'm a fourth year, with a 3.8 GPA and numerous research publications and community service records. I was wondering if this would in anyway ruin my chances at entering medical school. I understand that everyone has their own subjective views on marijuana usage, so I ask that any advice be purely objective.

Thanks

-S
If it doesn't go on your criminal record, you don't have to report it and shouldn't have any problems. I don't know what the laws are like in CA, so I would recommend finding out for sure before you disclose anything.
 

HopesandDreams

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Sep 2, 2011
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Hey Guys,

So I was given an infraction for possession of marijuana in CA. I'm 21, and the officer cited me with a health and safety infraction (told me it was no more harmful than a speeding ticket). Looked it up and saw it's a minor 100 dollar fine and no posts on a criminal record.

I'm a fourth year, with a 3.8 GPA and numerous research publications and community service records. I was wondering if this would in anyway ruin my chances at entering medical school. I understand that everyone has their own subjective views on marijuana usage, so I ask that any advice be purely objective.

Thanks

-S
Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm pretty sure you don't need to report infractions to amcas, they are not criminal offenses. Looked again just to be sure and amcas only asks about misdemeanors and felonies. Some schools ask more specific questions in their secondary. Either way I'm relatively certain there is no way for the schools to find out about this unless you were fingerprinted and booked, but still I would recommend honesty if a school asks directly (ex. have you ever been found to be in possession of an illegal or controlled substance) or it may come back to haunt you. Pretty sure they do ask this or some version of this when you apply for your DEA license. The wording of the question is important, note that you weren't arrested (meaning rights read, fingerprinted and booked into the system).

And stop smoking weed, cigarettes, using any illegal drugs, or drinking to the point of inebriation.
 

Goro

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Concur with my learned colleague. Essentially, this type of thing is now the equivalent of a traffic infraction, as the officer mentioned.

The only thing you might have to worry about is the "you' should have know better".

Multiple infractions would be far worse to my eye...it says you didn't learn your lesson the first time.

I would not expect to be an application killer but it could make it just a bit more difficult. As I've said in the past, too many adcom members came of age in the 60s and 70s - we'd be hypocrites if we denied admission to everyone who was ever in possession of pot.
 
Dec 17, 2013
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Even if it does come up in an interview or something, as with anything of this nature, just be contrite. Learned your mistake, won't happen again, stopped hanging out with the people who do that, etc etc. In fact, you could perhaps turn it around and say you're glad that this issue was brought up, so that you can tell them about how you changed things in your life after that incident.


I will say though, I hope this doesn't become a sticky problem for you -- I don't think a minor infraction like this warrants that much extra scrutiny towards your application. But of course, it just depends on who is looking at your app...
 
OP
R
Dec 27, 2013
6
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Pre-Medical
Why did the officer search you in the first place? Were you under the influence? Smoking or buying in public? Walking out of a medical MJ dispensary? Driving?

Do be prepared for those questions. The recency ma y be an issue, but the crime itself is small potatoes.
I was driving back to my hometown and he stopped me for speeding (10 above the limit). When he walked up beside the window he mentioned that he could smell marijuana in the car. I thought it wouldn't be wise to lie to him (I had less than 10 dollars of it in the glove box) and told him the truth. I was super polite with him so he let me off with just the minor possession charge and let the speeding and vehicle infraction go. Seemed clear cut in my case, and he put the fear of God in me.

Edit: I wasn't smoking and/or high at the time this occurred.
 
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mcloaf

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You'll be fine.
 
OP
R
Dec 27, 2013
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I was arrested for possession of a small ($10) amount of marijuana. It came up briefly in one of my interviews, but no one could hardly have cared less. However, it was 15 yrs ago in my case, lol.
Haha, well I'm sure marijuana laws are less stringent now than they were back then (especially in CA), so I'm hoping the same will occur in my interviews if/when this incident is brought up.
 

LuciusVorenus

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Wait. I'm confused about people saying it's only a blemish. Would it even show up as a blemish in the first place? I'm pretty sure I remember seeing something about not having to report marijuana related offences if you're from California when I was filling out my apps.
 
OP
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Dec 27, 2013
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Wait. I'm confused about people saying it's only a blemish. Would it even show up as a blemish in the first place? I'm pretty sure I remember seeing something about not having to report marijuana related offences if you're from California when I was filling out my apps.
That would be the best news possible. ever. Can anyone confirm?
 

LuciusVorenus

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That would be the best news possible. ever. Can anyone confirm?
As far as your PRIMARY application is concerned it actually says "California Residents - Please do not provide any information concerning a misdemeanor or infraction marijuana conviction that occurred more than two (2) years from today's date and specifically HS11357(b) or (c), HS11360(b), HS11364, HS11365, or HS11550 as they related to marijuana before January 1, 1976 and their statutory predecessors." (on page 34 of the instruction manual https://www.aamc.org/students/download/182162/data/amcas_instruction_manual.pdf)

I don't know what it means by the 2 years. Does it mean 2012 since the date of the manual is 2014 or (more likely) that offences over 2 years old are not to be reported. You should figure out though! But I don't know if it's worth delaying your application for 2 years. As the several adcoms in this thread have pointed out, it won't kill your application unless you're already borderline.

EDIT: Oh also, as HopesandDreams mentioned, there are some schools which will ask specifically (on their secondaries) about infractions relating to controlled substances. In those cases you have to mention it.
 
Last edited:
OP
R
Dec 27, 2013
6
0
Status
Pre-Medical
As far as your PRIMARY application is concerned it actually says "California Residents - Please do not provide any information concerning a misdemeanor or infraction marijuana conviction that occurred more than two (2) years from today's date and specifically HS11357(b) or (c), HS11360(b), HS11364, HS11365, or HS11550 as they related to marijuana before January 1, 1976 and their statutory predecessors." (on page 34 of the instruction manual https://www.aamc.org/students/download/182162/data/amcas_instruction_manual.pdf)

I don't know what it means by the 2 years. Does it mean 2012 since the date of the manual is 2014 or (more likely) that offences over 2 years old are not to be reported. You should figure out though! But I don't know if it's worth delaying your application for 2 years. As the several adcoms in this thread have pointed out, it won't kill your application unless you're already borderline.

EDIT: Oh also, as HopesandDreams mentioned, there are some schools which will ask specifically (on their secondaries) about infractions relating to controlled substances. In those cases you have to mention it.
"controlled substances" is a pretty broad category. Would it be safe to assume, with all the advice given by the adcoms, that marijuana wouldn't be as frowned upon as harder drugs (cocaine, meth etc.)? I wouldn't mind mentioning it and explaining the situation, I'd just like to assume that that since marijuana usage is fairly ubiquitous, it'd be simple to explain to adcoms.
 

LuciusVorenus

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"controlled substances" is a pretty broad category. Would it be safe to assume, with all the advice given by the adcoms, that marijuana wouldn't be as frowned upon as harder drugs (cocaine, meth etc.)? I wouldn't mind mentioning it and explaining the situation, I'd just like to assume that that since marijuana usage is fairly ubiquitous, it'd be simple to explain to adcoms.
While you might not have to mention it on your primary for all schools, I would say if a school's secondary asks about controlled substances definitely mention it. I wouldn't worry at all about marijuana being considered on the same level as cocaine and meth :laugh:
 

Lil Mick

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Definitely not condemning if you have to report it, but the recentness of it might be an issue for some places... I have some experience with applying with this sort of thing--not too many issues. Send me a PM if you want to talk more.
 

HopesandDreams

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I thought I was pretty clear about this in my previous post but I will reiterate.

As the questions are currently stated, you do NOT need to report this to amcas. What you have been charged with is an INFRACTION not a MISDEMEANOR or FELONY.

This is analagous to not needing to report an infraction for not stopping a full 3 seconds at a stop sign, while you would have to report a conviction if you were say pulled over on your bike doing 130mph+ and charged with felony evasion and reckless. Further given the way the system currently works there is no way ordinary background checks would find this information since you were not arraigned/ arrested meaning processed and booked into the system. Even if they were to find it out you would have some degree of legal protection since you haven't actually provided any false information. There is a possibility that secondary apps and applications for things like DEA license and hospital privileges will ask more specific questions. At that point the wording is very important. ex. Have you ever been arrested ? In your case NO because you weren't booked into the system which is what CA regards as being arrested. Have you ever been suspected of any crime in relation to a controlled substance? I would say NO because in CA infractions are generally not considered a "criminal offense" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_criminal_law#Infractions . Have you ever been found to be in possession of an illicit or controlled substance illegally, or have you ever had ANY charge or offense (infractions are public offense in CA) brought against you in relation to such and such ... The way this question is worded I would say you would be obligated to say yes, although again, it would be hard for anyone to find out if you did lie ( but you should not lie as that would be unethical and immoral)


DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer. This information is based on my knowledge of the experience of a friend of mine who was in a similar situation to you due to infractions for noise complaints (disturbing the peace) who did consult a lawyer to figure out what to do.
 
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BurberryDoc

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As others have mentioned, this may not be the coup de gras as it were for your application to medical school, but you should keep in mind that in the broader context, possession and use of marijuana is illegal in most areas and there is scientific evidence that supports the claim that use of marijuana is associated with cognitive decline, and together this does not indicate marijuana usage as a desirable quality of a physician. These are things you should keep in mind as you move forward with your preparation for medical school and in medical school. Certainly, there are regional biases, some more forgiving and some less, but on the whole, this is not something you want to be perceived to have an association with as a medical school applicant, medical student, or a physician.

Disclaimer: I am not spouting off my own personal beliefs. You can call this devils advocacy if you like :)
 
Apr 12, 2012
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As the questions are currently stated, you do NOT need to report this to amcas. What you have been charged with is an INFRACTION not a MISDEMEANOR or FELONY.
I find it interesting that California separates infractions from misdemeanors. In my state, all infractions are classified as misdemeanors to my knowledge. I wonder if my state is the odd ball or whether California is just extremely nice about it.
 

bambam92

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It seems like you won't have to even report the incident OP. So it shouldn't be a "blemish" at all since adcoms wouldn't even be knowledgeable about the incident. Definitely don't report if you don't have to !
 
OP
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Dec 27, 2013
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Thanks for all the amazing advice, guys! From the looks of it, it seems as if I won't necessarily have to disclose this infraction (depending on the specificity of the question) and, even if I did, the occurrence wouldn't necessarily be looked upon severely.