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Morning Bell: Should schools be concerned about medical marijuana?

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A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Good Thursday morning! Hope your Fourth of July holiday was restful and patriotic. 

After Oklahomans approved medical marijuana in an election last month, Edmond Public Schools officials voiced concerns of the possible impact on thousands of high school students. In fact, the school board voted to expand the district's random drug testing program.

"I have great concern on medical marijuana and its effects on kids," said Superintendent Bret Towne at Monday's regular meeting of the Edmond Board of Education. Oklahoma voters last week authorized medical marijuana in a statewide vote.

Towne's statement came after Board Member Jamie Underwood said the district should become more "proactive" in making sure the thousands of teens in Edmond high schools didn't become involved with marijuana or other drugs.

"I just don't want students starting life off on the wrong foot," Underwood said.

Concerns over student drug use is nothing new and it's not surprising that school leaders are wondering what the new era of medical marijuana might mean for students. 

But research has shown that the legalization of marijuana hasn't increased student use. From the Washington Post: Following legalization, the rate of adolescent marijuana use in Colorado has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade, according to new federal survey data.

State-level numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that a little more than 9 percent of Colorado teens age 12 to 17 used marijuana monthly in 2015 and 2016, a statistically significant drop from the prior period. That's the lowest rate of monthly marijuana use in the state since 2007 and 2008.

“Teen use appears to be dropping now that state and local authorities are overseeing the production and sale of marijuana,” said Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLC, one of the drafters of Colorado's marijuana ballot measure, in a statement. “There are serious penalties for selling to minors, and regulated cannabis businesses are being vigilant in checking IDs.”

That won't be enough to comfort everyone, but it shows that the expansion of marijuana use under government control hasn't brought an immediate uptick in adolescent drug use. 

However, drug addiction is having an impact on Oklahoma schools. Last year, I wrote about the growing drug epidemic in Oklahoma and the impact it is having on students across the state. 

“Nowadays you see a lot more kids involved in the prescription pills,” said Chris Lambakis, a drug and alcohol counselor for El Reno Public Schools, who said the biggest challenge he faces in preventing students from using drugs is dealing with growing drug use at students' homes.

Fireworks sales for classroom supplies

Some educators took advantage of the Fourth of July holiday by selling fireworks as a fundraiser. Teachers in Ripley (near Stillwater) are using fireworks sales as a way to raise money for classroom supplies. 

"We've sold lots of things before this, and really it just wasn’t enough," Lisa Pritts, the elementary school principal, told Fox 11.

TPS set to appoint new board member

Tulsa Public Schools board member Amy Shelton announced Monday that she intends to step down in early August, reports the Tulsa World

Shelton, who represents the board’s second district, which encompasses Rogers and Booker T. Washington high schools, said she was stepping down for family reasons.

The board, TPS said in a news release, will accept Shelton’s resignation at its Aug. 6 meeting and it would take effect on Aug. 7.

Board policy says that the board may appoint an eligible District 2 resident until the next regularly scheduled board election, which is in 2019. It has to fill the seat within 60 days of it being declared vacant or the Tulsa County Clerk will call a special election.

That's all for today. As always, send me an email (bfelder@oklahoman.com) if you've got a question, concern or story idea. 

Related Photos
A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Voters in precincts 97 and 98 shared voting booth space inside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene near SE 15 and Post Rd during primary election voting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.  An election worker at the site described voter turnout as "heavy,'"  saying that lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots were at least 12-20 deep most of the day, and at times, the line extended out the door and into the parking lot.  Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Voters in precincts 97 and 98 shared voting booth space inside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene near SE 15 and Post Rd during primary election voting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. An election worker at the site described voter...

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-630acb549ad21051ae2f4a8a49becaa5.jpg" alt="Photo - A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Voters in precincts 97 and 98 shared voting booth space inside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene near SE 15 and Post Rd during primary election voting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. An election worker at the site described voter turnout as &quot;heavy,'&quot; saying that lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots were at least 12-20 deep most of the day, and at times, the line extended out the door and into the parking lot. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman" title="A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Voters in precincts 97 and 98 shared voting booth space inside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene near SE 15 and Post Rd during primary election voting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. An election worker at the site described voter turnout as &quot;heavy,'&quot; saying that lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots were at least 12-20 deep most of the day, and at times, the line extended out the door and into the parking lot. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>A man sits at a voting cubicle to mark his ballot. Voters in precincts 97 and 98 shared voting booth space inside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene near SE 15 and Post Rd during primary election voting on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. An election worker at the site described voter turnout as &quot;heavy,'&quot; saying that lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots were at least 12-20 deep most of the day, and at times, the line extended out the door and into the parking lot. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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