Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Marijuana Legalization Brings More Drugs Than Money to Classrooms

 

shutterstock_200553167Soon voters in 14 states, including Arizona, California, Maine, and Nevada, will decide whether to follow Colorado and legalize marijuana. When Colorado faced the same vote, the most common argument from the pro-legalization side was that it would bring more tax revenue for education. As an educator, I was opposed to funding capital improvement for education projects with drug money, but was willing to listen to the debate for decriminalization of pot. As I predicted, there has been more negative effects in the classroom than money in the classroom.

Marijuana marketing is everywhere. Kids see advertisements with everything from candy bars to lollipops to soda to brownies that are infused with THC, the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. These advertisements often attempt to be humorous by spoofing products that are already familiar to children, such as “Pot” Tarts. According to BusinessWeek, “Edibles and other infused products—defined as anything other than the bud itself—make up at least half of the total, dispensary owners say.”

Colorado is now number one in marijuana use by 12- to 17-year-olds. The marijuana industry in Colorado is so normalized that kids don’t even understand the dangers. Parents also don’t understand how easy it is for these products to get into schools. A recent study by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) found that of students who obtained marijuana, 45 percent of them obtained it legally from friends, 24 percent got it from the black market, 22 percent from their parents, six percent from medical marijuana dispensaries, two percent from retail marijuana stores and one percent from medical marijuana card holders.

Parents may think just because they don’t use or leave products around their house that their kids are safe. They may trust their own judgment, but do they trust their kids’ friends? How about their friends’ older siblings? Or the strangers who still sell on the black market?

In June 2016, over 100 School Resource Officers were surveyed by RMHIDTA on the impact of marijuana legalization. Eighty-two percent said there has been an increase in marijuana-related incidents since legalization. Among the most common violations by students, 45 percent had been under the influence of marijuana during school hours and 43 percent were in possession of marijuana.

Legalization of pot will not destroy the cartels or the illegal sales to our youth. It will only force them to shift to selling harder drugs as we have seen with the increased use of heroin and other narcotics. The industry itself has repeatedly shown its reluctance to provide the safe handling of the residuals from their grow operations as students have reported that they dumpster dive to get free pot. The so-called industry fought childproof packaging because of cost instead of protecting children.

This isn’t just about students breaking the law, but the effects the prevalence of marijuana is having on their education and future opportunities for success. Many students don’t understand the potency of marijuana-infused edibles. There have been several instances of students being unable to return to class or emergency services having to be called. Additionally, marijuana violations make up 58 percent of all drug-related expulsions and 78 percent of all referrals to law enforcement. These actions can put kids on a path from which they may never come back.

What good are promises of money for infrastructure once students are expelled or involved in the legal system?

It is crucial that students have an environment where they can learn and obtain the skills necessary to make a positive impact on society. The legalization of marijuana in Colorado puts students at a disadvantage compared to students in other states. Voters across the nation have the benefit of learning from our state’s mistakes and keep their kids safe and on a path to success. As always, adults are role models for children. Getting high is not a model of responsibility we should portray to the impressionable and developing brains of our young people.

There are 20 comments.

  1. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Good data. I’ll ask a friend who works in a local school system if Washington has seen the same trends since legalization here.

    • #1
    • October 14, 2016, at 9:14 AM PDT
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  2. PsychLynne Inactive

    I suspect that at some point this thread will morph into the right to legalize conversation, so let me jump in before that happens : )

    I am so saddened to read this, yet not surprised at all. Of course it’s everywhere. Of course use, even illegal use by 12-17 year old kids, has increased. We have normalized it, and really shouldn’t be surprised by this. The human toll and opportunity costs will be significant, I believe.

    And, naturally, other states are jumping on the band wagon, while the tax money is rolling in, but the societal costs are not quantified yet.

    I had a sociology professor who used the term “Frankenstein effect.” He said that it described relatively quick societal shifts or introduction and uptake of technology that are intended to improve life, but once released, we have no control over how they are used. He was always intrigued by unintended consequences. I think of him every time I read an article about this.

    Also, I’m watching the parents in my area, many of whom support decriminalization, start to get antsy when their kids start looking at colleges in Colorado.

    • #2
    • October 14, 2016, at 9:14 AM PDT
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  3. Hammer, The Member

    I think you might be correct to point out a problem, but you are incorrect in the broader diagnoses and solution. First, legalization merely allows demand to be met. If demand is the issue, your problem is with the culture. Regulations designed to change the culture will not… parenting, freer schools, fewer incentives for bad behavior (e.g. welfare) are the appropriate places to start.

    • #3
    • October 14, 2016, at 9:29 AM PDT
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  4. Fred Cole Member

    Excuse me, but if you’re going to make these claims, will you please link to their sources so we can evaluate them?

    • #4
    • October 14, 2016, at 9:39 AM PDT
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  5. Kwhopper Inactive

    RyanM: First, I think legalization merely allows demand to be met.

    What demand? Were 12-17 year olds demanding THC in their candy bars? Marijuana is a supply problem – it’s easy to manufacture, it just needs to be “legal” so advertising it is ok.

    RyanM: Regulations designed to change the culture will not… parenting, freer schools, fewer incentives for bad behavior (e.g. welfare) are the appropriate places to start.

    Yes and no. Being a parent and taking it seriously is always the number one way to make good people and citizens. But there are always bad things and bad people. Easy example – there is some demand for people to steal (somebody has something you want). We consider stealing bad and codify that in law. That seems the proper sense for drug use and regulation. While stealing involves hurting other people and drug use is usually personal, the author is demonstrating that marijuana use has effects well beyond the personal.

    • #5
    • October 14, 2016, at 9:46 AM PDT
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  6. Hammer, The Member

    @kwhopper, the idea that kids are unintentionally eating candy bars laced with thc seems a bit more like a paranoia than an actual concern. Marijuana companies don’t have any more motivation to”get children hooked” than do alcohol companies. I am not saying that any sort of undesirable exposure is impossible, only that government regulation for that purpose will do little to address the actual problem, while the unintended negative consequences will be large. There are many ways for a society to address issues without turning to government.

    I also found that many people who discuss this issue suffer from an incomplete understanding of the actual substances involved. Pot is not heroin or meth… yes, different drugs should be treated differently.

    • #6
    • October 14, 2016, at 10:12 AM PDT
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  7. Laura Koch Inactive

    It’s pretty shocking that Colorado appears to have legalized marihuana and not regulated advertising targetting kids at all, is that right? Was there any plan in place for prevention and rehabilitation before the law passed? I’m interested because in Canada our new Liberal (left wing) PM is taking us down the same garden path. They’re at the exploratory stages now for legalization and I’m hoping in Canada we can avoid adverts related to pop tarts and candy. I’d happily support a limitation on the way companies can communicate their products when it comes to drugs. We’ve had tremendous success reducing smoking by labelling the packages with a grotesque sucession of images and health warnings. Scare tactics and stigmatization worked for smoing, why should pot get a free pass?

    (edited for a typo)

    • #7
    • October 14, 2016, at 10:16 AM PDT
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  8. Andy Blanco Inactive

    I know the media is quite biased toward the pro-pot crowd but almost every article I have read about this issue has shown that teen marijuana use in Colorado has remained essentially unchanged.

    See, e.g. http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/20/marijuana-use-colorado-teens-marijuana-no-increase/

    Anyway, I also don’t understand the argument that Colorado teens are being held back because their marijuana use gets them involved in the legal system. Colorado being a state where over-21 use is legal, isn’t it the case that underage offenses are treated rather lightly compared to other parts of the country?

    Certainly it can’t be worse than my state, Virginia, where an 18 year old who is caught with 14 grams of marijuana is subject to a potential ten-year prison sentence.

    Struggling to see the argument in this post…questionable facts and reasoning.

    • #8
    • October 14, 2016, at 10:34 AM PDT
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  9. Fred Cole Member

    Laura Koch: It’s pretty shocking that Colorado appaears to have legalized marihuana and not regulated advertising targetting kids at all, is that right?

    It would be shocking … if it were true. There’s plenty of regulations covering marijuana advertising.

    • #9
    • October 14, 2016, at 10:34 AM PDT
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  10. Laura Koch Inactive

    Fred Cole:

    Laura Koch: It’s pretty shocking that Colorado appaears to have legalized marihuana and not regulated advertising targetting kids at all, is that right?

    It would be shocking … if it were true. There’s plenty of regulations covering marijuana advertising.

    What marketing strategies did they prohibit, promoting pot as a “natural health product” maybe? If the post is accurate it sounds like kids are being targetted covertly if not explicitly.

    • #10
    • October 14, 2016, at 10:50 AM PDT
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  11. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t know what it used to be like in other parts of the country, but my step-sister who was in high school in the mid-1990’s says it was substantially easier to get marijuana than alcohol. So it doesn’t appear that prohibition was especially effective at keeping it away from kids.

    • #11
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:13 AM PDT
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  12. Hammer, The Member

    Laura Koch:

    Fred Cole:

    Laura Koch: It’s pretty shocking that Colorado appaears to have legalized marihuana and not regulated advertising targetting kids at all, is that right?

    It would be shocking … if it were true. There’s plenty of regulations covering marijuana advertising.

    What marketing strategies did they prohibit, promoting pot as a “natural health product” maybe? If the post is accurate it sounds like kids are being targetted covertly if not explicitly.

    I live in Washington State, where Marijuana is legal, and I have never seen an advertisement. It seems to be pretty tightly regulated. And I do not believe that there is any motivation for anyone to target kids. What exactly do they stand to benefit from it, when they have everything to lose?

    • #12
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:26 AM PDT
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  13. Hammer, The Member

    I would imagine that marijuana producers, only recently legitimized, and certainly under a microscope, have every reason to desire that their products stay as far away from children as possible.

    But I also think that the use of that term is a bit misleading. I’ve seen a few cases of drug exposure in children, always in dependency court… if we’re talking about teenagers, that’s a whole different ballgame. Teenagers don’t need advertising or targeting. If they want something, they will find out a way to get it. If we don’t want them to have things, the best way is for us to convince them that having those things is a bad idea.

    • #13
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:33 AM PDT
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  14. billy Inactive

    Randy Weivoda:I don’t know what it used to be like in other parts of the country, but my step-sister who was in high school in the mid-1990’s says it was substantially easier to get marijuana than alcohol. So it doesn’t appear that prohibition was especially effective at keeping it away from kids.

    This was certainly true when I was a teenager in the 80’s. Although, 3.2 beer wasn’t that hard to get.

    • #14
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:36 AM PDT
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  15. Fred Cole Member

    Laura Koch: What marketing strategies did they prohibit, promoting pot as a “natural health product” maybe? If the post is accurate it sounds like kids are being targetted covertly if not explicitly.

    Here we go:

    http://www.dglaw.com/images_user/newsalerts/Advertising_Colorado_Retail_Marijuana_Regulations.pdf

    The specific rules generally use the alcohol industry’s voluntary advertising standards as a model. For example, they provide that sellers may not use television or radio advertising unless they have “reliable evidence” that no more than 30 percent of the audience for the program on which the advertising is to air is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21. Similarly, a seller may not advertise in print publications or via the Internet unless it has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the publication’s readership, or the audience for the Internet web site is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21. This means general interest web sites may be off-limits. Another rule prohibits a seller from using unsolicited pop-up advertising on the Internet. Moreover, a seller in Colorado “shall not engage” in advertising that specifically targets per

    More:

    The regulations make it unlawful for any seller to engage in advertising that is visible to members of the public from any street, sidewalk, park, or other public place (except to identify the location), including advertising utilizing any:

    >> billboard or other outdoor general advertising device;

    >> sign mounted on a vehicle;

    >> hand-held or other portable sign; or

    >>> handbill, leaflet, or flier directly handed to any person in a public place, left on a motor vehicle, or posted on any public or private property without the consent of the property owner. In addition, a seller may not include in any form of advertising or signage any content that “specifically targets individuals under the age of 21,” including but not limited to cartoon characters or similar images.

    • #15
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:44 AM PDT
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  16. Fred Cole Member

    Ron Castagna: As an educator, I was opposed to funding capital improvement for education projects with drug money,

    Okay, here’s part of the problem: you’re talking about tax revenue from sales of legal marijuana as “drug money.”

    Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and Viagra are all drugs. But you wouldn’t call tax revenue generate from their sale “drug money.” There’s no way to have an honest discussion when you start off that way.

    There’s also no way to have an honest discussion if you’re going to throw out a bunch of stats and not cite your sources.

    • #16
    • October 14, 2016, at 11:47 AM PDT
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  17. Laura Koch Inactive

    Fred Cole: In addition, a seller may not include in any form of advertising or signage any content that “specifically targets individuals under the age of 21,” including but not limited to cartoon characters or similar images.

    Thank you for posting this, I think it’s interesting to read the actual regulations and to see what was intended. I do honestly wonder if the reality in Colorado matches the spirit of the regulations or just the letter. Sounds like something’s gone sideways in that State, but I can only let OP speak to that as I’ve not been there.

    • #17
    • October 14, 2016, at 12:19 PM PDT
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  18. Fred Cole Member

    Laura Koch:

    Fred Cole: In addition, a seller may not include in any form of advertising or signage any content that “specifically targets individuals under the age of 21,” including but not limited to cartoon characters or similar images.

    Thank you for posting this, I think it’s interesting to read the actual regulations and to see what was intended. I do honestly wonder if the reality in Colorado matches the spirit of the regulations or just the letter. Sounds like something’s gone sideways in that State, but I can only let OP speak to that as I’ve not been there.

    Those aren’t the actual regulations. That’s from a legal website that boils them down.

    Wrt what’s going on in Colorado, it may be quite different from what the OP claims. He didn’t cite any sources for his stats, so they cannot be critically examined. But it is clear from the tone what his slant is.

    • #18
    • October 14, 2016, at 12:23 PM PDT
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  19. I Walton Member

    There is no policy reform that in the usual hands can’t make the post reform system worse than the original. It’s that common sense thing. It’s just so rare.

    • #19
    • October 14, 2016, at 1:41 PM PDT
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  20. Profile Photo Member

    PsychLynne: I suspect that at some point this thread will morph into the right to legalize conversation, so let me jump in before that happens : )

    Good call.

    • #20
    • October 14, 2016, at 5:37 PM PDT
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