A Columbia University student who sold marijuana as part of a campus drug-dealing ring has begun a year of drug treatment that could get his charges dismissed, becoming a prominent example of a rehabilitation option expanded by a recent change to New York’s drug laws.
Christopher Coles pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling more than a pound of marijuana to an undercover officer and steering the officer to another student to buy the prescription stimulant Adderall. But Coles, 21, will be allowed to withdraw the plea, and the case will be dismissed, if he succeeds in inpatient treatment.
One of five students arrested in December 2010 in what authorities called a major takedown of drug-peddling on the Ivy League campus, Coles was the only one approved for what’s known as diversion to treatment that could wipe his legal slate clean. His lawyer had argued that Coles’ own drug struggles fueled his crimes.
“Most of the people you are going to encounter there (in rehab) are not going to be college kids. This is not a fraternity,’’ Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Ellen Coin, who oversees a special drug court, told Coles. “You have a lot to gain if you finish and a lot to lose if you don’t.’’