Students and Medical Cannabis – A Prescription for Trouble?

By April 6, 2010articles

Okay, here’s the scenario:  You are the principal of a high school that has come down very strictly on the anti side of the legalize marijuana debate, then your state gets legal medical cannabis.  Within a couple of weeks you have at least half-a-dozen students who hold legal medical marijuana cards – how are you going to reconcile the use of a legal medicine that is also an illegal drug?

Given that medical marijuana in Oregon became legal in 1999 I’m not sure why this is a problem that has just surfaced, but it seems that it is, because this is the very position administrators at one Oregon high school find themselves in. A  situation that isn’t helped by the fact that card holders do not have to notify the school that they have a card.

Principal Jeff Schlect of Ashland High School says, “This is all just kind of starting to happen and it does place us in an awkward position.” He knows that less than a handful of his students have medical marijuana cards but he reckons that there are more that he doesn’t know about; “until it really impacts their academic performance, we typically don’t find out,” he said.

One student at the school said that although some people become card holders for seemingly legitimate health reasons, others appear to be working the system to make a profit.  “Some of them have it for medical reasons, but others are just trying to get free weed and sell it, turn it around,” he said.

Currently it seems that guidelines for cardholders are being created on an ad hoc basis; if teachers or school administrators notice that a student is under the influence of drugs, they are required to send the student to the office. If the student is a cardholder, administrators work with the student’s parents, physician and teachers to create guidelines.  The ultimate goal, said Schlecht, is to avoid students being high in class.

“You can’t be under the influence and be successful in many high school classes, like biochem or algebra II,” he said.

So far the school has not seen cardholding students continuing to come to class high and insisting that they must do so for medical reasons. It will happen, of course it will, and Oregon law is not clear about what rights the school or the student would have in such instances.  As Schlecht says, “this is going to be an issue for high schools.”

If you have something to say about this, why not post your comments on our medical marijuana forum – let’s get a healthy debate going!


Author Dianne Morgan

More posts by Dianne Morgan

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Extreme says:

    I agree with your age thing KJ although in terms of medicine it doesn’t really stand valid because medicine should be accessible to people of all ages. I agree with your responsibility statement 100%. I also remember being in high school and seeing the kids abuse cannabis like crazy (I’d say it was 50-50 ratio of cannabis to alcohol users in my high school).

    I think in many instances the medical card is used to fuel this abuse even more. The author talks about kids selling. I think the medical scene could facilitate this, allowing the card holders to be the dominant ‘hook ups’ at the high schools. This would make sense right? This could have a negative effect on the medical community as a whole b/c of outside eyes frowning upon it with clenched fists raised high and fingers pointing. It is because of my remembrance of arrogant teenage years that I think there should be extreme limitations on medical use and k-12 students.

    The schools should have rights also. This will have two benefits. One being that it will help keep the youth focused on being successful, and TWO that it will help keep our sacred medical community safer from outside eyes who are waiting to point fingers at every hurdle the new MM revolution has to take.

  • Well Said KJ,

    If we’re willing to send our youth off to die at war, I think we owe them this respect.

    Marijuana doesn’t affect your performance in school if you use it properly, but if you have to be heavily medicated with marijuana it will. However if you have to be heavily medicated with opiates, or other narcotics then you would me MORE affected. So it is the lesser of two evils.

  • KJ says:

    This is the crux of the age issue…how old do you need to drink alcoholic beverages? Vote? Go to war? Smoke medicinal marijuana? Everyone is different but the point complex. Abuse, underperformance or deviance is not the point of having a card. Getting natural relief from pains or anxieties without narcotics or opiates is the point. It takes responsibility from all parties in the ecosystem!

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