Tolerance of medical marijuana leads to more youth drug use |

Tolerance of medical marijuana leads to more youth drug use

My Side
Myles Rovig
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Myles Rovig

Kudos to Elizabeth Murphy of the Carbondale Trustees and our Garfield County commissioners who are concerned about the effects of marijuana on our kids.

Ms. Murphy has stated that her town has set a bad image for kids and suggested her board could do a better job controlling the marijuana business in Carbondale. The Roaring Fork School District board of education has similar concerns and has taken aggressive steps to stem the tide of marijuana usage and sale in our schools in all our communities.

It is a difficult battle to wage in the face of some government officials’ acquiescence, the business community’s acceptance, and district residents who have largely stayed silent on the issue.

Recently, our school board passed a resolution opposing the full legalization of marijuana. At the request of the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, the board chose to join a substantial group of organizations to declare its opposition to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

The proclamation reads: “For Colorado’s public health and safety, we are opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.” The organizations have declared this proclamation, “to send a clear message to our youth.”

Most of those organizations work daily with youth suffering the effects of drug abuse. They see the tragedies firsthand.

I believe our city and town government officials are certainly concerned about children, but their legislative actions have only minimally reflected that concern. Although it is of substantial importance, determining a marijuana store’s distance from a school may have little effect on drug access. It ignores the condition that as long as the stores exist in town, the kids have ready access to marijuana no matter where the store is placed.

The real damage is being done by these governmental bodies accepting the providers in the first place, as it has changed the perception of kids in our valley. Where many kids did think that the drug was to be avoided, way too many now feel it is no big deal because the adults in the valley allow it on Main Street.

They see their peers using their medical card to get access to whatever they can buy and then share it with them for another price. I’ve also spoken to parents frustrated by other parents who are providing the drug to kids since it is “legal” now.

This “no big deal” attitude has taken our school district’s drug expulsion rate up nine times over prior years and the suspension rate up five times. In the 2009-10 school year, the district experienced nine expulsions for sale and distribution and 49 suspensions for use on campus. In the 2010-11 school year, the district recorded 10 expulsions for sale and distribution of marijuana but had a reduction in suspensions with 19 recorded.

We hope the students are getting our no tolerance message. These increases have a direct correlation to when the marijuana stores appeared on our main streets.

I hear from many citizens expressing their concerns about drugs and kids, but have heard almost no one speak out publicly. That’s why I am so pleased to hear Ms. Murphy and the commissioners voice their concerns.

If the rest of us stay silent, we will continue to have kids coming to school “high,” and have more middle school students selling “special brownies” in school. If this activity is not what you want, then talk to your elected officials. Our schools alone cannot shoulder this responsibility.

Myles Rovig of Glenwood Springs is a business owner and a member of the Roaring Fork School Board. He wrote this opinion as a citizen, not as a member of the school board.

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