BARTON — A handful of students consumed a commercially available chocolate bar containing medical marijuana at Lake Region Union High School on Wednesday, leading to disciplinary actions and a warning to the community from Principal Andre Messier.
The Kind Farms Confections chocolate bar from York, Maine, is the size of a Hersey bar. The packaging says it contained 300 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, divided into 12 pieces containing 25 mg THC each, Messier said.
That’s a high dosage suitable for someone with a high tolerance for THC, according to an online site about edible and other marijuana sources called TripSafe.org.
This candy bar is not easily available online, but similar candy is available to minors at many online sites without stringent identification requirements, Messier said.
Messier called this an eye-opener that fits into an emerging pattern of abuse of vaping and other legal drugs.
“This is not unique” to Lake Region, Messier said.
“It is everywhere, it is in the fabric of our culture. I think people need to be aware, parents need to be aware, legislators need to be aware.”
The incident occurred Wednesday, when a parent contacted the school after their child noticed other students acting unusual, Messier said Thursday afternoon.
An adult in the school also noticed students acting unusual and reported it, he said.
Administrators investigated and learned that students had brought and eaten the medical marijuana chocolate bar at school, Messier said.
Students involved have received disciplinary action. Messier said he could not go into detail and risk identifying the students involved. The discipline might involve a suspension, he said.
Some students could face other consequences as well if they are involved in extra programs at school. If a student is in driver’s education, for example, Messier said they could be taken out of the program because use of alcohol or drugs violates rules.
If a student is currently in training for interscholastic sports, use of marijuana or alcohol could lead to suspension from games or even the season, if it’s a repeated infraction.
The incident did not rise to the level of involvement by the school resource officer.
The use of marijuana by a minor would be a civil ticket only in Vermont, said Orleans County Chief Deputy Sheriff Phil Brooks. SRO Kyle Ingalls is aware of the situation, Brooks said.
Messier said the administration works closely with Ingalls but he doesn’t participate in administrative handling of violations of school policy, which aren’t crimes.
Messier said he was actually relieved at first to find out that the medicinal marijuana chocolate bar that the students ate was made commercially because it would meet certain quality standards for the amount and quality of the drug it contains.
Homemade edibles, for example, could contain unknown amounts of the active drug and perhaps other illegal drugs, Messier said.
But then he realized how potent the chocolate bar was, with each of the 12 squares containing far more than an inexperienced user would require to reach a high, he said.
And because it’s ingested, it takes a while for the active drug to cause its effects, causing Messier to worry that students could eat more to try and get a high from it and overdose by accident.
Easy To Get
He explored the ease with which anyone can buy products with marijuana online now that many states allow it.
“It’s really, really scary,” he said.
And it’s in schools now, he added.
“Anybody who thinks that it’s not has their head in the sand.”
One parent asked him how they can stop it. He said the only way is to educate parents, students and lawmakers about the ease with which young people can purchase these products.
At one online site, Messier said he only needed Bitcoin, a Western Union payment or a Walmart gift card to buy the marijuana candy, all untraceable and all accessible to minors.
Vaping is already a huge problem in schools, Messier said. The sale of flavored e-cigarettes has “left us dealing with a societal mess,” he said.
“You’ve got a generation of people addicted to it.”
Some parents are even encouraging their teens to vape, feeling it’s less harmful than the cigarettes or marijuana they were smoking, he said.
He is hoping that lawmakers will take notice and act to help protect young people.
And to parents and students, he reminds them to “see something, say something” when it comes to threats as well as drugs in schools.