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Columbia Drug Suspects to Ask for Treatment, Lawyers Say

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Columbia University Columbia University (Wally Gobetz/flickr)

A case against five Columbia University students accused of dealing drugs on campus is putting a spotlight on a recent overhaul of New York's drug laws.

Lawyers for two of the five students said they plan to ask a court to prescribe drug treatment rather than prison. Judges were given more discretion in sentencing under a 2009 overhaul of the state's Rockefeller drug laws.

Prosecutors aren't commenting on the students' request.

The outcome will be watched closely by both backers of the reform and critics, who said the changes give drug dealers a pass.

Columbia suspended three fraternities last month after the five students were accused of selling LSD-spiked candy and other drugs on the campus.

Two of the students reportedly told investigators they needed the money to pay for tuition. All the students have pleaded not guilty.

They're due back in court in March.

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