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Pot no stranger to some at Placer High

High school marijuana use up, study says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Marijuana use is up nationally, and several Auburn teens said smoking the drug is a fairly common occurrence for high-schoolers. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “Monitoring the Future” survey, marijuana use by students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades has gone up from last year. The study found that 13.7 percent of eighth-graders, 27.5 percent of 10th-graders and 34.8 percent of 12th-graders use the drug annually. These percentages are all up from the 2009 study, with 12th-graders showing the highest rise with a 2.1 percent increase. More than 46,000 students participated in the study. So is marijuana use an issue at Placer High School? “We have encountered it,” said Dave Neher, Auburn police school resource officer. “We refer a lot of these incidents to the Juvenile Probation Department. The school disciplines them as well, so it’s kind of like a double hit.” Gary Pantaleoni, assistant principal at Placer High, said there are severe consequences for students found using marijuana. “It’s a suspendable offense,” Pantaleoni said. “On the first time we work with the parent and the student. It’s usually a five-day suspension. If it happens a second time, we do move them toward expulsion. We do move for expulsion on anything that has to do with sales.” Pantaleoni said the school has seen an increase this year in incidents in which students were caught using marijuana. “There might be a dozen incidents a year, but they have gone up,” he said. “It’s not a dramatic increase, but it is up.” Pantaleoni said in his experience there are a couple reasons why teenagers smoke the drug. “It would be for social and self-medication (reasons),” he said. “I think it seems to be becoming more accepted by the general public.” The Journal interviewed five random Placer High students about marijuana Downtown last week. Their names are being withheld, because they are minors. Student 1 is a 15-year-old male sophomore who said he smokes occasionally. “Once a month, maybe less,” he said. Student 1 said he started smoking in 9th grade and feels that a lot of people at the school smoke the drug, including about 20 of his friends. The student said because he was always around others smoking marijuana, it was a natural thing to start doing. Student 2 is a 16-year-old female sophomore. She said she doesn’t smoke marijuana, but a couple of her friends have before. She has noticed the drug’s negative effects on those who constantly smoke it, she said. “People who do it every single day, more than once a day, it kind of has an effect on their school work,” she said. “They don’t do it, because they are high all the time.” Student 1 said he thinks ill effects seem to happen more to those with certain personalities. “I feel like the people who have more addictive personalities are more affected by it,” he said. Student 3 is a 15-year-old male freshman. He said he started smoking when he was in middle school. “The first time was in eighth grade,” he said. “I was just really stressed out, because people were being jerks to me. It was stress … and trying to get attention in a way too, I guess you could say.” Student 3 said he smokes about once every month and a half. “I don’t go out of my way to get it,” he said. “I have (smoked it), but not all the time. If a friend has some, I’ll be like, ‘Why not?’ It’s like candy. We know it’s bad for us, but we do it anyway.” Student 3 said he doesn’t encourage others to use the drug, although many of his friends smoke it. “I don’t recommend it,” he said. “It’s kind of pointless. You basically might as well take sleeping pills. It just makes you want to sleep.” Student 4 is a 14-year-old female freshman. She said she doesn’t smoke marijuana, because she has seen the negative effects it can have on people like her brother, who has experience with a number of drugs. “He still smokes it,” she said. “He just turned into this really bad drug addict. He would steal from my family. He would steal money from anyone he could get it from.” Student 4 said her brother also stole things such as iPods and cameras from her friends. She said her brother was clean for about three or four months, but recently started doing drugs again. She said he doesn’t like his addiction. Student 5 is a 15-year-old female freshman. She said she does not smoke marijuana, but knows others who do. “Pretty much everyone I know has or still does smoke,” she said. “They do it for their own social (group), to fit in with the people they want to be with. Sometimes smoking weed is a way of getting in with their crowd.” Neher said he wants teenagers to know the serious danger of smoking marijuana. “It is considered a gateway drug, and it definitely has the possibility of leading to more dangerous and hard drugs,” he said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Monitoring the Future Information: Visit monitoringthefuture.org