EagleCrestHS

No Easy Fix for Colorado Schools with Marijuana

August 23, 2016 — A letter from the Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, sent to families by email.  There’s no easy fix for the shortcomings in Colorado’s school financing system.

Since 2009, the state Legislature has taken liberties with the school funding formula mandated by the voter-approved Amendment 23, using the so-called “negative factor” to cut funding every year. The Legislature has relied on circuitous reasoning and intricate formulas to withhold crucial money from school districts across the state.

We’ve felt the impact of those cuts in the Cherry Creek School District. We’ve been underfunded by about $50 million annually. Since 2012, $380 million has been withheld from Cherry Creek. We’re facing a shortfall of more than $20 million for the 2017-2018 school year. These cuts have the potential to impact every facet of district operations, from recruiting new teachers to maintaining a reasonable class size.

It’s a crisis that’s tied to our fundamental priorities as Coloradans, one that won’t find an easy remedy from the state’s nascent marijuana industry. People keep asking me, ‘Where’s the pot money?’ The short answer is that the Cherry Creek School District hasn’t received any. The longer answer is about how the money actually is allocated.

The lead-up to the legalization of marijuana in 2012 brought plenty of rhetoric regarding the positive impact on public schools in Colorado. Voters were told that taxes on legal marijuana would prove to be a windfall for cash-strapped school districts; millions of dollars’ worth of education cuts from the state would be offset by new income from a new vice tax.

That’s not what happened. In the fiscal year 2014-15, for example, taxes from the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado totaled $77.9 million, $66.1 million of which came from special sales and excise taxes.

For context, the state’s general fund is about $9.7 billion, and the total state budget is $26 billion. By state law, the first $40 million of the excise taxes from marijuana sales went toward capital improvements for poor and rural school districts, and the remainder went toward marijuana education, treatment and regulation and enforcement programs across the state.

The Cherry Creek School District saw none of that money, nor did most of the other large school districts in the Denver metro area.

Similarly, the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants allotted for the 2016-17 year by the State Board of Education will have no impact on Cherry Creek Schools. Funding for projects in Aurora Public Schools, Adams 14 and Westminster all carry the contingent of matching funds from the school districts, and the vast majority of the 31 awarded grants will go to rural districts far outside of the metro area.

But to be eligible for the grants, those school districts must pass a local bond issue first, or already have matching capital funds available.

So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.

This isn’t a new story. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco haven’t fixed the state’s quandary when it comes to funding public education, nor have revenues from lotteries or casinos.

The reality is that any fix will have to come from a much more complex and overarching effort. To offer our students the resources they need to learn, we need a much more profound change at the state level, one that comes down to real and lasting change. It comes down to spelling out our collective priorities as Coloradans, to urging our elected representatives to do the hard work and make sure that students in Colorado receive the funding spelled out by a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

That effort is much more complex than any easy fixes offered by legal marijuana.   (Harry Bull, Ed.D. is Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools) 

weedandbrownie

Mass Illnesses Due to Marijuana Edibles, Brownies, Candy

Mass Illness from Marijuana Edibles in San Francisco

There’s more potential for overdose from edibles than smoked marijuana, although the teen in Seattle who jumped to his death last December did it after smoking pot for the first time.  Two shocking incidents in California suggest that overdose emergencies will increase if that states vote to legalize marijuana in November.  Here’s a summary of recent cases of toxicity from edibles:

    • 19 people were hospitalized in San Francisco on August 7 from THC, after attending a quinceañera party.  The source is believed be marijuana-infused candies, perhaps gummy bears. Several children were among those poisoned, one as young as six.  A 9-year-old had severe difficulty breathing.
    • A JAMA Pediatrics article explains the dramatic rise in children’s hospitalizations related to marijuana in Colorado since legalization.  In 10 cases, the product was not in a child-resistant container; in 40 scenarios (34%) there was poor child supervision or product storage.  Edible products were responsible for 51 (52% ) of exposures.  The report claimed that child-resistant packaging has not been as effective in reducing kids’ unintended exposure to pot as hoped.
    • The report mentions the death of one child, an 11-month-old baby.  Nine of the children had symptoms so serious that they ended up in the intensive care unit of Colorado Children’s  Hospital.  Two children to be needed breathing tubes.

      HamzaWarsame
      Hamza Warsame, 16,  jumped 6 stories after smoking pot in Seattle in December. Photo: Seattle Times, from the Warsame Family
    • The state of Washington has a similar problem with edibles, as reported on the King County Health Department’s website.  From 2013 to May 2015, there were 46 cases of children’s intoxications related to marijuana edibles reported in Washington.  However, reporting is voluntary and the state estimates that  number could be much higher.
    •  In May, a father plead guilty to deliberately giving his 4-year-old daughter marijuana-laced cake in Vancouver, Washington.  He was sentenced to two years in prison.

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      Intoxication from marijuana edibles has risen steadily since legalization. Source: King County Department of Health. Top photo: AP
    • In Hingham, MA, there was a 911  related to teen girl who ingested marijuana edibles.  The candies were in a package labelled Conscious Creations, which didn’t disclose ingredients.   Massachusetts has a medical marijuana program, but it is not clear how or to whom they were sold or dispensed.
    • July, 2016: A California man was arrested for giving candy laced with marijuana to a 6-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy; the 6-year-old was hospitalized for marijuana poisoning.
    • July, 2016: Police in Arizona arrested a mother for allegedly giving her 11- and 12-year-old children gummy candy infused with marijuana. Police say the marijuana-infused candy was originally purchased by an Arizona medical marijuana user, but was illegally transferred to the mother in question.  (State medical marijuana programs have poor track records of assuring the “medicine” goes to whom it is intended.)
    • On April 27, a Georgia woman was arrested after a 5- year-old said he ate a marijuana cake for breakfast.  The child was taken to the hospital for treatment following the incident; according to officials, his pulse was measured at over 200 beats per minute.

Edible marijuana poses a “unique problem,” because “no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form” – such as cookies, brownies and candy.    Many household items cause poisonings, but marijuana edibles are different because they’re made to look appealing and they appeal to children.

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Adult Use of Marijuana Act is Wrong for California

Proposition 64 Allows Pot Edibles and Advertising

California’s Proposition 64 is called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA. Please tell your friends in California to vote NO ON 64 for good reasons.

1)It allows pot shops sell marijuana candy and soda, near where children live. According to the Latino Report the former mayor of Downey said, “These things look just like the candy that children love, and I’m not sure why the pot industry feels the need to market such kid-friendly stuff, unless it is taking a page from the tobacco industry’s handbook.”

Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school
Pot drinks showed up the backpacks of 5th graders at a Seattle school after legalization.

The marijuana lobbyists tell voters that “drug dealers don’t card but dispensaries do.”  That statement implies that children won’t take it from their parents, which is either very naive or deliberately deceptive. All evidence is contrary.

 

2) It fails to properly protect from stoned drivers: Proposition 64’s proponents refused to include a DUI standard for marijuana. This has become a real problem in states that have legalized pot like Washington, where the percentage of traffic deaths involving stoned drivers doubled in just one year post-legalization.

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In Longmont, CO, a 20-year old driver under the influence of pot killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike on May 20. She was coming back from school, accompanied by stepdad.

3) Stoned drivers and underage use packs a double whammy:  An under-aged marijuana user in Colorado recently killed an 8-year-old girl riding her bike.  In Washington, a 17-year-old driver killed three of his classmates while driving after he got stoned.  In the past four months, 17-year-old drivers killed bicyclists while driving stoned in three separate  fatal crashes.  Proposition 64 cannot make right the wrongs of marijuana legalization.

Marijuana Edibles available in Colorado often look like familiar candies.i
Marijuana Edibles  often look like familiar candies. Proposition 64 allows the industry to set safety standards and do the testing.

4) It puts the pot industry in charge of safety standards: Proposition 64  allows the pot lobby to set the  product safety and testing standard which  will be based on voluntary codes. That’s like putting Philip Morris in charge of tobacco regulation.

5) Increased homelessness/mental illness:  It will bring more people to the state for marijuana who may suffer from mental illness as a consequence of their drug use and end up homeless.*  California’s drug users already face the problem of homelessness.  At first glance, it seems that the West Coast has more homelessness because its warm weather attracts people. It may be that marijuana use —  most popular in the West — has caused the homelessness.

6) Proposition 64 doesn’t prohibit advertising.

7) It specifically allows convicted drug-dealing felons to get into the marijuana businesses.  (California’s current medical marijuana law does not allow these same felons to get into the business.)

The marijuana industry tells us that “Prohibition has failed.”  Legalization is a much bigger failure.  Let’s not be duped again.  Please donate to either No on 64,  to Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana (CALM).   If you want to help all states fight legalization, please support SAM Action, and its educational wing, Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

DrugPreventionEducation
We have failed miserably at educating why not to use drugs. It’s time for a big change in strategies, back to education in the schools.

In California, anyone who is 18 can get a medical marijuana card for the most dubious of reasons.  Some may argue that the by legalizing marijuana for adults only, the state will control its out-of-control drug dealing in the form medical pot dispensaries.  A state as big and diverse as California failed miserably with medical marijuana. What makes you think they can do any better.  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom says  California doesn’t want to make the same mistakes as Colorado, Oregon and Washington.  Then don’t legalize pot at all.

Kent,WA

Tragic Accidents Related to Marijuana Involve Children

15-year-old driver high on pot paralyzes boy, rips truck into 3 parts near Seattle

When states legalize marijuana for adults, children are in danger, too.  Here’s recent traffic accidents involving marijuana. Eight are dead, three of them children.

  1.  A 7-year-old boy is paralyzed, because a girl driving under the influence of marijuana smashed into his dad’s pickup truck near Seattle on May 24, 2016.  The unlicensed, 15-year-old driver was in a BMW, with a 24-year-old man and a 5-year-old child.  The man driving the truck sustained critical injuries, with his truck  torn into three parts.  (photo above: Kent fire department)
  2. An  8-year old girl, Peyton Knowlton, who was hit and killed while riding her bicycle in Longmont, Colorado, on May 20.  Newspaper articles on July 27 report that the police investigation confirms that the 20-year-old driver high had been high on marijuana at the time.  He was below the legal age for purchasing marijuana.  (A video on below shows the scene of the accident.)

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    Peyton Knowlton from a gofundme page, as shared in an article on Westword.com
  3. In Boulder, Colorado on May 7, a 17-year-old was driving home from smoking pot with friends when he plowed through a stoplight while stoned and killed two young adults.   It means that at least two deadly accidents in Boulder County involved marijuana during the month of May.
  4. July, 2016: A Wisconsin teen admitted to using marijuana shortly before his vehicle missed a stop sign and collided with an SUV. The driver was a 17-year old.  His 16-year-old passenger died, as did an adult in another vehicle. The driver was in intensive care.
  5. June, 2016: Authorities in Arizona believe the woman who caused a deadly crash was driving under the influence of marijuana. Court documents reveal the woman was driving at least 75 mph in a 40 mph zone when she crossed the center line, plowing into an oncoming vehicle and killing a man and his daughter.   A 2-year-old and 4-year-old were injured.
  6. In Virginia, a 27-year-old father drove under the influence of marijuana with three children in the car.  He  collided with an oncoming train and the youngest, a 3-year-old girl, died on March 25, 2015.  Last month he was sentenced to three years in prison.

We wrote about bicyclists’ deaths recently.   In Boulder County, three died in two accidents in May.  Here’s a video from the report after Peyton Knowlton’s death, which occurred in Longmont: