School Climate & Safety

Medicinal Message Skews Students’ Perceptions of Marijuana, Critics Say

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, Education News Colorado — February 06, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The call came this past fall while the single dad was at his construction job.

“It was the hardest day of my life,” he said.

The man’s son, an East High School freshman, had been busted with baggies of marijuana at a Colfax Avenue parking garage adjacent to the school.

His arrest was one of 18 at East for marijuana possession last year and among the 179 arrests for marijuana possession or sale at 43 Denver schools during 2010-11, according to Denver police records.

The boy said he purchased the marijuana from a senior at school. He was naïve enough to divide it into smaller bags and write friends’ names on them.

“His whole intention was to sell it and make some money. There are quite a few kids there with a lot of money. He was trying to fit in and make some money,” the boy’s dad said.

The names of the father and son are being withheld because the boy is still a juvenile.

While Colorado schools report an increase in drug-related incidents and both national and state surveys show a rise in marijuana use among young people, this father has a message to other parents and kids.

“The stakes are a lot higher than you think,” the dad said. “You’re doing something illegal and you’re playing with fire. Sooner or later, you’re going to get burned.”

He believes young people are confused by mixed messages that bombard them. On the one hand, medical marijuana dispensaries are located near schools and advertise their products as “healthy” on storefronts, online, and on radio stations with young audiences.

On the other hand, East officials are taking a proactive stance against the use of marijuana by students and federal law enforcement officials in January announced a crackdown on medical marijuana shops within 1,000 feet of schools.

The 36-year-old father said he never had a strong opinion on the marijuana debate before, but now thinks medical marijuana dispensaries should be illegal.

“Nobody thought about the kids,” the dad said. “How do you tell your kids this is wrong when you’ve got a guy with a sign dancing around and saying, ‘Come get this’?”

On the day the boy was caught, school resource officers hauled the 15-year-old back to East, arrested him, and charged him with two felonies: attempted distribution and attempted distribution to a minor.

The dad couldn’t bear to watch as the officers loaded his son into the police car and drove him to the Gilliam Youth Detention Center.

Because of a holiday, the boy ended up spending four days locked up before a judge in Denver’s juvenile court could hear his case. He experienced some bullying that led to a fight and some minor injuries.

Ultimately, he was confined to house arrest for two weeks, expelled from East and later harassed online for being a snitch. He had rocks thrown at his car and had to miss weeks of practice for his elite club sports team.

“It’s been devastating for him,” the dad said.

The boy transferred to another Denver high school and his grades plummeted.

“He had never been in trouble before. He had great grades. He went from a 4.0 to a 2.5” grade point average, the father said.

The boy is now on probation. If he can stay clean for two years, the felonies will be expunged from his record. He returned to East this year and is doing well again in school.

“I don’t want to see other kids go through that,” the dad said. “You don’t realize how this impacts the rest of your life. It impacts him getting into college and getting jobs. This has affected both of us pretty heavily.”

Related Tags:

This examination of medical marijuana dispensaries near schools results from a partnership between Education News Colorado, the I-News Network and Solutions, three non-profit news websites based in Colorado and staffed by professional journalists.

Republished with permission from Education News Colorado. Copyright © 2012 Public Education & Business Coalition. For more information, visit www.ednewscolorado.org.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety 4 Case Studies: Schools Use Connections to Give Every Student a Reason to Attend
Schools turn to the principles of connectedness to guide their work on attendance and engagement.
12 min read
Students leave Birney Elementary School at the start of their walking bus route on April 9, 2024, in Tacoma, Wash.
Students leave Birney Elementary School at the start of their walking bus route on April 9, 2024, in Tacoma, Wash. The district started the walking school bus in response to survey feedback from families that students didn't have a safe way to get to school.
Kaylee Domzalski/Education Week
School Climate & Safety Most Teachers Worry a Shooting Could Happen at Their School
Teachers say their schools could do more to prepare them for an active-shooter situation.
4 min read
Image of a school hallway with icons representing lockdowns, SRO, metal detectors.
via Canva
School Climate & Safety Michigan School Shooter's Parents Sentenced to at Least 10 Years in Prison
They are the first parents convicted for failures to prevent a school shooting.
3 min read
Jennifer Crumbley stares at her husband James Crumbley during sentencing at Oakland County Circuit Court on April 9, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, are asking a judge to keep them out of prison as they face sentencing for their role in an attack that killed four students in 2021.
Jennifer Crumbley stares at her husband James Crumbley during sentencing at Oakland County Circuit Court on April 9, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. The parents of Ethan Crumbley, who killed four students at his Michigan high school in 2021, asked a judge to keep them out of prison.
Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP
School Climate & Safety Civil Rights Groups Seek Federal Funding Ban on AI-Powered Surveillance Tools
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, the coalition argued these tools could violate students' civil rights.
4 min read
Illustration of human silhouette and facial recognition.
DigitalVision Vectors / Getty