Effect of Legalized Marijuana Still Unknown

Sophie Vawter , Staff Writer

Oregon recreational marijuana sales became legal in October, allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to sell limited marijuana retail products to anyone at least 21-years-old. Even though this law excludes  minors, it makes sense to question the effect this law will have on high school students.

Interestingly, no one knows for sure if the law has made any differences at Centennial. Marijuana-related issues at the school have almost tripled those from last year, but it’s not possible to draw any conclusions from the numbers alone.

School Resource Officer Mike Erickson said he hasn’t noticed any big differences after the law was passed. He said that the number of kids getting caught depends on the month. There could be one to two a month, or ten. There isn’t a specific rate.

At this point in the school year last year, there were five reported cases with any relation to marijuana. In the overall year, there were 39 cases. This year, there have already been 14 reported cases. At this pace, there would be about 63 cases this school year. There’s no proof that these numbers have any correlation to the law, but the numbers have definitely increased.

Erickson said the issues are split equally between boys and girls. “A group of three or four will go out and smoke then come back acting weird and such,” he said. Teachers are a main form of how kids get caught, because of their behavior, smell and being late to class.

High school kids are creative, and probably think if they don’t bring just a plain joint to school, they won’t get caught. But Erickson said that’s not the case, since adults catch kids with all different forms of marijuana including butter, oils and candies.

It doesn’t matter what form they have, it’s the same punishment for anyone getting caught. Once a kid is caught with possession of marijuana, the punishment really depends on the situation. On their first time getting caught they have to go through a drug screening, get reinstated, and are given the option of going through the Lifeworks program.

Lifeworks is a program that works with teens to break the cycle of substance abuse. The kid can claim that they’ll get better on their own, but they can only say that once. If they are caught again, then they are required to go through Lifeworks.

Erickson and Dean of Students Greg Melvin both agree that they just want all the kids to make positive steps in the rest of their lives. They try to not include authorities unless it is really necessary.