Recent anecdotal reports from school districts suggest an increase in marijuana possession and consumption among young people, especially after the passage of Initiative 502, which legalizes small quantities of the drug for people age 21 and older. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on what the law means to public schools.
The passage of I-502 changes nothing in public schools in Washington state. Certain drugs, including marijuana, continue to be illegal on school property and to anyone younger than 21 years old.
To receive federal funds, districts must abide by the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and must have a Drug and Tobacco-Free Workplace and a similar student policy in place. Each district’s policy has a number of common requirements about marijuana and other drugs, such as not allowing any student to:
- Manufacture or
- Be under the influence.
Any student caught will be disciplined according to local district policy and local law enforcement as required. Fines can also be doubled if the arrest occurs within 1,000 feet of a school facility.
I-502 changes state law but has no effect on federal law.
Some people think that a medical marijuana card is similar to a prescription for a controlled substance and can be brought to schools or the workplace. That is false. Having a medical marijuana card does not mean a student, or an employee, or anyone for that matter, can bring marijuana on school grounds.
Students need to be engaged and prepared for school. Marijuana doesn’t allow them to be either of those things. Marijuana dulls the brain. It can lead to paranoia, short-term memory loss and depression.
And for those under 21, it is illegal.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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