NYC Teens Are Getting High at School in Alarming Rates, Drug Use Up 17%: Report
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High school students at New York City schools are attending classes while high on drugs in alarming numbers, following cannabis legalization in 2021, and 2,000 marijuana dispensary openings across the city.

According to the New York Post, teachers have been struggling to handle the rapid increase in drug use among students, which reportedly involves other substances as well, including alcohol and unauthorized prescription medications, which rose 17% this past year alone.

Cannabis products now come in discreet forms like gummies and vapes, preventing teachers from detecting which students are using them. Teachers usually rely on watching the students’ behavior and the way they “smell” for clues.

“They show up sluggish with red eyes. Sometimes you can even smell it on them,” a teacher at Queens’ August Martin High School told the Post. “It’s not good for learning. They can’t learn if they are high.”

Another teacher reportedly said students are not only arriving to school while high during morning classes, but also taking “mid-day smoke sessions.”

Mayor Eric Adams called attention to the situation during his “State of Our Schools” speech last week, explicitly citing the widespread presence of illegal cannabis stores in every neighborhood in the city.

According to Adams, the rampant rise of unlicensed marijuana dispensaries throughout the city corresponded with increased drug use by high school students.

Last week, the Post spoke to an Excelsior Prep High School student in Queens, who said he smokes daily but doesn’t think it affects his learning.

“I’ve been smoking [marijuana] for three years now,” he said while lighting up before class. “I usually smoke one before school.”

“I’m a smart kid. It doesn’t stop me from learning.”

However, some research indicates that marijuana can affect “attention, memory, and learning,” and “can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Officials are also warning that marijuana could potentially be laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl, while some students told the Post that they worry about drugs being contaminated with “tranq,” a flesh-eating sedative known as the “zombie drug.”

FILE – Cannabis vaping products are showcased at Housing Works, New York’s first legal cannabis dispensary, Thursday Dec. 29, 2022, in New York. As New York opens more legal outlets for recreational marijuana, some public health advocates want more scrutiny on how marijuana products are being marketed to teens and young adults. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that dozens of students and teachers from New York City’s public, private, and charter schools said that marijuana use led to chaotic classroom environments, although it’s not easy to discern whether students are using marijuana while in school.

In a written letter last December, former principal April McKoy said that cannabis use spiraled out of control during her last two years at Brooklyn’s City Polytechnic High School. The increasing numbers of students seemed unaware of the impacts and consequences of early marijuana use, she added.

“It felt like more and more were using without knowing the source, impact or consequences of early marijuana use,” she wrote.

McKoy said she saw freshmen students selling cannabis to each other and witnessed a smoke shop selling edibles to 14-year-olds. Four of her students were sent to the hospital after eating contaminated edibles.

Meanwhile, Adams vowed to crack down on illegal cannabis shops throughout the city, but, for some people, including students, change cannot come fast enough.

“I hope that adults realize they’re not doing their job,” Bronx high school student Alexa Pacheco, told The New York Times, following a incident where Bronx Documentary Center journalism students saw the Puff Puff Pass 1 cannabis store selling products to minors.

“A teenager should not be worried about their friends using drugs.”

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[Feature Photo: Pixabay]

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