Broken Arrow Schools Express Concern Ahead Of Vote To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Broken Arrow Public Schools is anxiously awaiting the results of a statewide vote Tuesday on recreational marijuana.

Derek Blackburn, the Executive Director of Student Services said, “My primary role is the safety of our schools and trying to keep certain things out of the schools, and of course, marijuana is one of those.”

He said marijuana is the drug they catch students using, selling, and possessing most often. “Overwhelmingly, marijuana is the factor and part of that is because the delivery device is so simple for the kids to use and to conceal.”

Broken Arrow School District said it has seen an increase in marijuana use in its schools since the passage of medical marijuana in 2018. Blackburn points to data collected by the Oklahoma State Department of Education from 2018 to 2021.

“Every school has to submit their drug-related suspensions to the state. There was an increase of over 500 students that received suspensions because of that,” he continued saying, “As far as our own data, even when COVID came into play and we missed half of a year, we were already at 80 cases. This past year we had 140 and to date, we have 100, yet we still have three months left of school.”

Blackburn said he is worried the more accessible marijuana becomes for students, the more likely they are to bring it to school and share it with their peers, impacting the learning environment.

“The kids that we have experienced, they seemed very lethargic and are not participating or paying attention in class,” he added. “Some of them if they have smoked it for the very first time have had a very physical reaction to that and some have passed out, therefore calling an ambulance, notifying parents, and obviously it disrupts their school day.”

However, the group “Yes on 820” argues its passage would benefit schools. Campaign Manager Michelle Tilley said in a statement to News On 6, “I am sick of kids in our public school system having to share textbooks because the school district is broke; Yes on 820 helps to fix that by generating over $100 million in new revenue annually.”

She also added, “Yes on 820 legalizes marijuana for adults – not kids – and has controls and regulations to keep products out of the hands of children. Twenty-one states have already legalized recreational marijuana and they have not seen an increase in teen use.”

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