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Schools look to address pot legalization

6:41 PM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
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WESTMINSTER - On the books, nothing has changed for teenage students in school. It is still illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess marijuana. It is definitely illegal to bring it to campus. But, Principal Mike Lynch is still worried about the legalization of pot.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LEGALIZED MARIJUANA IN COLORADO

"Students when they hear something was legalized, I think they may have a propensity to think that now it's acceptable," Lynch said.

He is the principal of Westminster High School. Lynch and administrators with the Adams 50 School District are taking a proactive approach in the pot discussion now that the recreational shops are open for business.

"Promoting a smart, intelligent conversation about the facts around marijuana usage and teens is what we're really trying to do," Lynch said.

Lynch is just one of a number of administrators across the state thinking about how to address the school community on the issue of legalized marijuana and the potential impacts on under-aged users.

"We want students to know that it's not only illegal, but extremely harmful for them to be using," Chris Harms, director of the Colorado School Safety Resource Center, said. "One of out every six that use starting around age 15 will become addicted. I don't think that message is out there."

Harms and the School Safety Resource Center are part of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. She says now is the time to spread the message that pot can have potentially harmful effects on the adolescent brain.

"Hopefully in science classes, in heath classes, in (physical education) classes, people are talking about it with students and getting them good information, so they are getting good choices," Harms said.

Harms believes there needs to be a renewed campaign targeted towards parents use pot, as well.

"Even if they are using legally, that it's really harmful for their students and to please not be using around their students," Harms said. "Making sure that their students don't get access."

Access is one of the biggest concerns for educators, Lynch says.

"We have seen a trend ourselves in schools that the availability of prior to January 1st was on the rise," Lynch said. "We're fearful of the abundance and the ease into which students can get their hands on medical marijuana or marijuana in any form."

Lynch says the last part is key. He says that teachers and staff are trained to recognize when someone has been smoking pot. But, he says with the legalization of recreational pot, students may have more opportunities to obtain pot edibles which are harder to detect.

"The way that they can consume it is different," Lynch said. "That's a game changer."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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