Schools brace for pot use ahead of academic year

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by Michael Konopasek, KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on August 28, 2014 at 8:20 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 28 at 7:43 PM

SEATTLE -- Soon children across the Seattle area will head back to class. This marks the first school year where marijuana is more readily available and socially accepted. Officers and educators are stepping up their game, sending the message loud and clear to the younger population-- smoking pot is not OK.

"They're going to try it. They're going to be curious," said Jane Pederson. mother of two teens.

Pederson, who lives in the Edmonds area, knows kids want what they are told they cannot have. When it comes marijuana, that worries her.

"It still has so much effect on their growing brain," said Pederson. "That's what kind of disturbs me the most."

She's right according to a new study presented to the American Psychological Association. Teens and young adults are hurting their brainpower. Decreased IQs have been found in people under the age of 25.

But health is not the only concern. The law is clear.

"The same kind of penalty that applies to a minor in possession [of alcohol] also applies to a minor in possession of marijuana," said Sgt. Sean Whitcomb with the Seattle Police Department. "It's a misdemeanor crime. It's a big deal … it's not acceptable."

A police report or arrest record can haunt teens when applying for college.

While Seattle police officers do not carry out random drug dog searches in schools, some suburban agencies do. It is not uncommon for school districts to test student athletes in the greater Seattle area, according to area school officials.

Both educators and officers say education and enforcement will be key in changing what is now thought of by many as socially acceptable.

"It is going to be probably a little more available than it has been previously because marijuana has opened itself up to a potentially larger market with the change in law," said Whitcomb.

For Pederson, it all goes back to a standard parenting approach.

"You've just got to try to educate your kids and hope they make good choices," she said.

For more information on what experts say pot can do to a child's brain, click here.

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