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Colleges are not included in 'school' penalties

It is my understanding that drug dealers receive harsher penalties if they are caught within 1,000 feet of a high school, grade school or middle school. Does this law apply to colleges as well? If you get caught dealing meth within 1,000 feet of, say, Southern Oregon University, do you face a stricter punishment?

— Mike G., Medford

If the dope cops catch you with 4 grams of methamphetamine near SOU, trust us, you'll find yourself in some hot water, Mike, but not as hot as you would if you were nabbed near South Medford High School.

Oregon law does enhance drug penalties near schools, but only ones attended primarily by minors, Medford police Lt. Brett Johnson said.

"The statute has to do with schools in which people under 18 attend," Johnson said. "The statue makes it clear that colleges are not covered under the enhanced penalty."

To be clear, ORS 475.904 states, "It is unlawful for any person to manufacture or deliver a schedule I, II or III controlled substance within 1,000 feet of the real property comprising a public or private elementary, secondary or career school attended primarily by minors."

Even though colleges aren't covered by the statue, Johnson said it's a losing proposition to get caught dealing near SOU or Rogue Community College.

"The rule of thumb is just not to deal illegal drugs anywhere," Johnson said.

Email your questions to youasked@mailtribune.com.