Colorado Pot Legalization Increases Problems In Schools

The  trend of more pot in schools  is reported around Colorado after the 2012 vote to legalize recreational use of marijuana.  The law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from possessing marijuana.  From a legal point of view, school officials need  facts adding up to “reasonable suspicion” that a student is violating either a school rule or law prohibiting drugs.  When these facts are established school officials can legally detain, question and search the student for drugs.  A school resource officer (SRO) working in Mesa County, Colorado schools said he is seeing both younger kids and more kids bringing marijuana to school.  He said middle school students show up with a half ounce of pot, an amount which is shockng to him.  They just want to be cool he concluded.

Janelle Krueger has been  the program manager for the Expelled And At Risk Student Services for the Colorado Department of Education for 17 years.    She has heard stories about kids bringing pot to school.  One incident an SRO related to her was this – a student was walking down the hall past the school principal when he dropped a bag of marijuana.  The principal picked up the bag asked the student if  it belonged to him.  The student admitted the pot was his and reached out to take it back.  What struck the SRO relating this story was the fact this student did not seem to realize he was doing anything wrong by having the pot or there would be any disciplinary consequences attached.  The SRO said the student acted like having the marijuana at school was no big deal and just an ordinary thing to do.  A school psychologist at a recent conference said the same thing – more kids report smoking pot thinking it is OK.  Another SRO said kids smoke marijuana at lunch and come back to afternoon classes smelling of pot.

The best evidence that pot is a growing problem in schools came from a 2012-13 report documenting why 720 students were expelled from the public school system in Colorado.  For the first time marijuana was separated from other drugs so school officials could identify the reason for the student’s expulsion.  Marijuana came in first.  It was  listed as being the reason for 32% of the expulsions.  The National Institute of Health found marijuana use among 10th and 12th graders increasing nationally, while use of other drugs or alcohol has held steady or declined.

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