How drug education is changing in schools

Schools begin to allow medical marijuana use and even reduce penalties for students caught with the drug
By: | December 1, 2019

A new high school education program acknowledges that some students will choose to use drugs, alcohol or other substances, according to U.S. News & World Report.

The nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance’s 15-class “Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens” covers “harm-reduction strategies,” such as using substances in moderation and knowing what to do in an emergency situation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“It takes a realistic approach, encouraging abstinence but also teaching strategies that help young people keep themselves or others safe if they ever choose to use drugs,” Sasha Simon, program manager for the initiative, told U.S. News & World Report.


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Pittsburgh Public Schools, meanwhile, has reduced the penalty for students caught with smaller amounts of marijuana from a 10- to a 5-day suspension, according to WPXI-TV.

Students will also have to attend nine hours of drug education counseling, WPXI reported

Colorado, New Jersey and Maine have set rules for the administration of medical marijuana on school property, District Administration reported last year.

Several districts operate recovery high schools to help students get back on track academically after overcoming addication and substance abuse problems, DA reported in May.


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Despite research suggesting that recovery high schools help students stay clean and earn diplomas, the often costly programs remain small-scale and rare: The 38 recovery high schools in 15 states enroll just a couple of thousand students, DA reported.

“It is of utmost importance for anybody in their recovery to build a community of people who aren’t using, who are supportive of their recovery, and who are trying to do the same thing that they’re trying to do,” Michael Durchslag, the director of P.E.A.S.E. Academy, a recovery high school in Minneapolis, told DA.

And administrators cracking down on vaping have increased monitoring of school bathrooms, sent students for drug tests and even banned USB thumb drives, District Administration reported last year.

“We’re very concerned that the emergence of e-cigarettes could undermine the progress we’ve made in reducing tobacco use, and could put a new generation at risk of nicotine addiction” Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told DA.


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