Although marijuana isn’t a new drug by any means, it’s legalization in Colorado, as well as in the other three states, has resulted in a whole new way of considering how it’s handled in certain situations and where it falls in comparison with other drug-related offenses.
Since recreational legalization happened in 2012, schools in Colorado have benefited tremendously from receiving portions of the revenue profited from state marijuana sales, of which they have been able to directly use toward improving education and infrastructure. While in-state schools have definitely used the extra funds for overall betterment, due to reformed legislation that goes hand in hand with Colorado’s decision to legalize pot, school officials have also had to spotlight marijuana-related offenses in a different way than in years prior beginning this past July. The new requirements make it so that public schools have to track and document all cannabis-related offenses that happen on school property – separating these types of instances from all other drug-related offenses that may occur. The goal of tracking and reporting these cases involving students and marijuana separately, rather than lumping them under the umbrella of all drug-associated incidents, is to provide better insight as to how prevalent it’s becoming in Colorado public schools, and more specifically, which schools are seeing more of it than others. Marijuana legalization has been a learning process for everyone living in the state, so it’s no surprise that schools are implementing ways to determine how it specifically effects their area of work.
While school officials say that they aren’t necessarily changing how they educate and enforce the drug within their districts, they are better understanding how to maintain health and safety for their students, and again, are more able to gather data and determine its popularity of usage. It has always been the interest of schools to promote healthy lifestyles for their students, and in the process, teach to prevent substance abuse, and also understand how to best handle it. What has changed, is marijuana itself – becoming increasingly more potent as time goes on. What kids are smoking these days is definitely way different than what they were smoking back in the ’80s, which is why the health and safety of students is so important these days.
A federal study recently conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services included all fifty-states, and numbers show that within the past month, Colorado leads all states when it comes to regular marijuana use among youth. Because it is legal, kids in Colorado are more likely to think that it’s okay to use and that it won’t have any impact on them, in turn, leading to a higher rate of use among students. After reading other articles about this same issue, it seems that people from out of state have images in their head of students in Colorado schools smoking pot and running amok, with absolutely no punishment because of legalization. On the contrary, students that attend public schools here in the state are still very much so penalized for any marijuana-related offense, sometimes facing suspension or expulsion, depending on the case. When breaking down these types of offenses that have occurred solely in the Poudre School District in Fort Collins between the dates of August 19 and November 12, a reported 60 marijuana-related instances have been documented, all resulting in expulsions and suspensions.
Here’s how each school within the district measured up:
- Rocky Mountain High School – 16
- Fort Collins High School – 10
- Poudre Community Academy – 8
- Poudre High School – 8
- Lesher Middle School – 6
- Lincoln Middle School – 6
- Blevins Middle School – 3
- Journey Program – 1
- Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School – 1
- Polaris Early Learning School – 1
* Note that numbers for Centennial High School were unavailable at the time.