Colorado School Officials: Marijuana Is ‘The No. 1 Problem In Schools Right Now’

Eric Owens | Editor

Public school teachers and officials in Colorado say they are immensely concerned that large numbers of students are using lots of marijuana now that the drug is legal across the state.

The growing problem of dazed and confused students was a widely discussed issue among the 350 or so school officials, teachers and law enforcement officials who gathered at a Safe Schools Summit conference this week in Thornton, Colo., The Denver Post reports.

The Colorado School Safety Resource Center, the conference sponsor, specifically scheduled a panel on how marijuana legalization is affecting schools because many attendees had specifically requested it.

“It’s the No. 1 problem in schools right now,” Lynn Riemer, president of ACT on Drugs, told the Post.

“We got sold that marijuana legalization was going to positively impact our schools,” Christine Harms, director of the resource center, added. “And there is the school infrastructure aspect, but we’re not seeing tremendous changes with marijuana prevention programs, and our students are paying the price.”

The hour-long presentation by a lawyer from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office covered drug possession law as it relates to students as well as interesting trends in drug paraphernalia and marijuana edibles.

Teachers and administrators took careful notes, possibly in the hope of using their newfound knowledge to bust kids.

“It’s like they’re disguising alcohol as Kool-Aid and marketing it to kids,” Jeff Whitmore, a school transportation official in southwestern Colorado, told the newspaper. “These edibles are cookies and gummy bears, and they’re filled with high amounts of THC.”

Whitmore also suggested that some parents are to blame for the spike in student pot usage.

“Kids see their parents smoking it and see it marketed everywhere, and they think it’s normal and OK for them to do,” he told the Post.

The legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana has been a tremendous economic boon for Colorado.

The Colorado Department of Revenue recently released figures showing that the state brought in $70 million in taxes relating to marijuana — compared to less than $42 million for alcohol taxes — over the course of a year. (RELATED: Colorado Just Became The First State In History To Collect More Taxes From Marijuana Than Alcohol)

The total amount Colorado raised in tax revenue during fiscal year 2014 to 2015 was $69,898,059.

Things are so great that state officials declared a marijuana tax holiday last month.

“Marijuana taxes have been incredibly productive over the past year, so this tax holiday is a much-deserved day off,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “This will be the one day out of the year when the state won’t generate significant revenue. Over the other 364 days, it will bring in tens of millions of dollars that will be reinvested in our state.”

Part of the reason why marijuana has completely outpaced alcohol in bringing in revenue is that marijuana users spend much more on the drug than drinkers spend on alcohol. According to new market research from Marijuana Business Daily, the average amount spent on marijuana in states where the drug is legal is $1,800 per year. Alcohol spending is pegged at only $450 and tobacco at $315, representing a major gap.

The majority of cannabis users use the drug daily, surveys show.

Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and allowed it to be sold by retailers for recreational use in 2013. Sale of the drug remains strictly regulated in the state.

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