Safety Abroad: Illegal Substances
The University of Michigan-Flint has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the possession, use, manufacture, production, sale, exchange or distribution of illegal drugs by students participating in UM-Flint affiliated study abroad programs. Violation of this policy may result in (i) immediate dismissal from the program; (ii) academic withdrawal from the University for the term in progress; and (iii) disciplinary action upon return to campus.
Each year 2,500 U.S. citizens are arrested abroad. One third of the arrests are on drug-related charges. Many of those arrested assumed that as U.S. citizens, they could not be arrested. There is very little that anyone can do to help you if you are caught in a foreign country with drugs. You are operating under the laws of the host country and the regulations of the local institution. Neither the U.S. government nor UM-Flint will be able to secure your release should you be caught.
It is your responsibility to know the drug laws of a foreign country before you go, because "I didn't know it was illegal" will not get you out of jail. Some laws may be applied more strictly to foreigners than to local citizens; therefore, don't assume that just because local people are using drugs, it's acceptable for you to use drugs. Information regarding drug penalties of your host country is available at the website, http://travel.state.gov/travel/warnings_consular.html.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of women arrested abroad. These women serve as drug couriers or "mules" in the belief they can make quick money and have a vacation without getting caught. Instead of a short vacation, they get a lengthy stay or life sentence in a foreign jail.
If you are purchasing prescription medications in quantities larger than that considered necessary for personal use, you could be arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.