There is a recent trend nationwide among teenagers and young adults: The legalization of marijuana. Aided by the internet, Facebook, and Twitter, there is a growing number of people in favor of making this drug legal. There is an attitude that since alcohol and tobacco are legal, then so should marijuana be. However, all three should be illegal, especially for teenagers attending schools.
According to compiled statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2008, marijuana was reported in over 374,000 emergency department visits in the U.S., with about 13 percent involving people between the ages of 12 and 17. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 23 percent of high school students have recently smoked marijuana. The Partnership at Drugfree.org released a new survey in May 2012 that found nearly 1 in 10 teens said they smoke marijuana at least 20 or more times a month.
With statistics such as these, high schools should test for drug use. Why? Marijuana affects learning, brain functioning, and memory, very important tools needed in a school learning environment. In addition, marijuana use is linked to poorer grades. A teenage marijuana user’s odds of dropping out are more than twice that of a non-user. Further, pot smokers miss more school days, skip school, and most importantly, try to influence and peer pressure other kids into the drug lifestyle. There is also a link between drug use in the teenage years and schizophrenia in young adulthood. Drug use also leads to lower inhibitions, which leads to, among other things, teen pregnancy, driving under the influence, depression, and other illnesses.
How do you go about testing for marijuana and other drugs? One proposal is for a urine test to be done every 9 weeks, which is when grades are handed out. Along with the school grades, there will be a pass/fail option in the report. If a student has tested positive for marijuana or other drugs, they will be referred to the school guidance counselor with the first offense. Further offenses warrant stronger consequences, and more help if necessary. Another proposal would be for random drug testing to be done throughout the year. It is also important for school personnel, including Teachers, to be randomly tested for drugs at least twice per school year. These ideas would have to be cost-effective to be implemented in a tight budget of most school districts today, but in the long run, they will save everyone money, and our children will have a better education and a safer learning environment.
When you apply for employment, you are expected to pass a drug-test, and to remain drug-free while employed for a company. In the same manner, people should expect teenagers to pass a drug-test and remain clean while attending school and working towards an education.