Re-1 to weigh in on medical pot? | AspenTimes.com

Re-1 to weigh in on medical pot?

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – An anti-medical marijuana crusading local school board member is leading an effort for the Roaring Fork Re-1 school board to take a position as it relates to local regulation of the issue.

“I believe there’s a silent population out there who are concerned but who are not talking about it publicly,” Re-1 board director Myles Rovig said at Wednesday’s board work session. “Part of the purpose in writing this is to get somebody’s attention. I would like to see the community come together to take care of this.”

Rovig has been a regular face at recent Glenwood Spring City Council meetings where a moratorium on new medical marijuana dispensaries was discussed, and ultimately approved on a 4-3 vote earlier this month.

As the city and other local jurisdictions, including Garfield County and the town of Carbondale, consider possible zoning and other regulatory measures to control the proliferation of dispensaries, Rovig said it’s important for the school district to lend a voice.

“We should be doing everything we can do to deal with this situation as it relates to our students, and helping kids make good decisions,” he said.

Legalization of medical marijuana possession in Colorado for patients with qualifying medical conditions, and the new dispensary industry that’s taken off in the last year to meet the demand, has served to legitimize marijuana use, Rovig said.

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“The purveyors are using our complacence and inattention to the issues, and are taking advantage of a door that was opened to them,” he said.

The result, he said, is easier access to marijuana by those who don’t have a doctor’s authorization, including minors.

He cites a jump in marijuana-related student expulsions from Re-1 schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt from under five two years ago to 20 this past year.

Myles penned a draft position statement for the Re-1 board to consider, which has been a topic of discussion at recent school board meetings.

It states that the school district “has concluded that the availability and use by students of the federally illegal drug marijuana is detrimental to the health and welfare of students.”

It goes on, in part, to encourage local governments to: persistently and aggressively regulate the trafficking of unlawful marijuana and medical marijuana to achieve a level of control which will significantly decrease or eliminate the access of the drug to students.”

That could include the outright banishment of dispensaries and related facilities, according to Rovig’s proposal.

It would also include a suggestion for parents to: “Inform your children about the deleterious affects of marijuana and other mood modifying substances in order that our students can make good decisions.”

The school board has been generally supportive of taking a stand on the issue in some manner, but how far that statement should go has been subject to some debate.

“I’m concerned about the language saying ‘aggressively regulate,'” school board member Debbie Bruell said at the Wednesday meeting. “It’s not our role to tell local governments how to regulate business.

“A better place to go is to just discuss how it’s impacting kids,” said Bruell, who has been part of a medical marijuana advisory committee appointed by the Carbondale Town Council. “Even some of the kids who agree with the idea of medical marijuana have acknowledged that it has increased access for kids.”

Still, she said she doesn’t see cause for panic.

“Some of these phrases trigger images that are different from reality,” Bruell said. “We don’t want people to be scared to send their kindergarten students to our schools because they think there’s drug dealers everywhere.”

The school board will continue to discuss the position statement over the course of the summer, and expect to have something firm by the time the new school year starts.

In addition to the position statement, the school board also recently revised its formal policies related to drug possession and use by students and staff to include medical marijuana in the language.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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