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Drug-Free Communities Program

The Burns Times-Herald reported recently on a possible expansion of random drug testing for students as the Drug-Free Communities Program (DFC) representative reported before Harney County Court. The program coordinator, Alicia Goodson, was there to present data and identify how well the program was doing. The results were not encouraging for those who fear increased marijuana use among young people.

According to the news report, figures were shown that indicated the number of 11th graders who said they used marijuana in the past month has gone up “steadily” in the years surveyed: 2005, 2010 and 2012. It appears that young people now think marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol Goodson said.

Ironically, one of the few proven dangers of marijuana use comes about when those under 25 use it regularly and in the population in question, marijuana consumption may actually be more dangerous that alcohol.

Also mentioned in the paper was random drug testing, something that DFC provides for students wishing to take extra-curricular activities. It is possible that increasing such testing by sampling the student body at large could identify marijuana (and other drug) users. This would allow for interventions. It is also assumed that random testing (also used to pick up alcohol and tobacco use) can act as a preventative by itself – students may choose to abstain if they fear detection and loss of privileges.

The problem of marijuana use in high school students is likely to get worse if the trend of “mainstreaming” marijuana continues. Students are very much aware of society’s judgment in these matters. Simply restricting use to adults over 21 may just put the drug into an “acting like an adult” category, where alcohol and tobacco currently reside.

Should marijuana use become legal in Oregon (a strong possibility) Goodson and DFC do not anticipate changing their strategies, since they already try to limit use of other legal substances.

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