Easy Access to Drugs Causes Concern Among Staff


Tanatswa Chivero

Nurse Matthews said that the effects of both smoking and vaping are being studied, but the long term effects will be most prevalent in the current generation.

Note: a drug is any substance that affects how the body functions, or the mental and physical state of the body. 

The use of marijuana and nicotine has become a common pastime for teenagers in the United States for various reasons, and many have even ventured into using the substances during the school day on school grounds. 

An anonymous source said they use marijuana as a break from school and the day in general. 

“The only good reason to use drugs that I have experienced is to feel better mentally,” the anonymous source said. “It makes me feel better and it gives me a break from everything. When I smoke, it boosts my mood a lot and sometimes it’s just a break from the world, which I don’t think is a bad thing.”

The source said that smoking with friends is an important part of the entire experience, often for safety reasons. 

“The only people I smoke with are my friends and people I trust, because that decreases the risk of something bad happening,” the source said. “I smoke with them specifically because it’s fun to be high around your friends, but a lot of the time I smoke by myself.”

The source said a lot of people who actively use marijuana do so because they feel as though there is a mental benefit that comes from smoking with their peers. 

“I think the reason why a lot of the kids our age smoke is because of the mental reasons and [the fact that] it’s fun,” the source said. “The fact that it’s illegal probably makes it more intriguing, because it’s fun to break the rules sometimes.”

Westside High School Nurse April Matthews said the effects of marijuana extend past the social aspect, and can be detrimental to overall school performance. 

“[Marijuana] slows down your central nervous system [and] when you have that slowing, it doesn’t allow you to have full capacity over what you’re doing, what you’re saying, [and] how you’re acting,” Matthews said. “As for school performance, can you [smoke] and still do great in school, [sure], but does that mean you should do it? No. It’s similar to caffeine. You can do a lot of things when you’re on caffeine, but that crash in the end means that maybe [in] your afternoon classes, you don’t do so well. There’s nothing healthy about it.”

The anonymous source said that they understand the effects of marijuana in regards to school performance, and said that they combat it by working ahead of time. 

“Weed definitely has an effect on how you do in school, but it isn’t that big of a deal if you have a good work ethic,” the anonymous source said. “I try to do a lot of my homework before I smoke, because I know it won’t get done if I tell myself I’ll do it after.”

The source said that they have never tried to smoke on school grounds.  

“I have never smoked on or near the campus, that’s a bit too risky for me,” the source said. “I have enough patience to just wait until I get home.”

Another aspect of the uptick in drug use, especially vaping, is the easy accessibility students have. Westside High School Resource Officer Jeff Kilgore said that accessibility to drugs is getting easier, and that some businesses are illegally selling them to Westside students. 

“The most prominent way that [students] get access to [drugs] is from friends,” Kilgore said. “Their friends either buy it on the streets, sometimes at school. There are some businesses as far as vapes go that are close [to] Westside that we know are selling to minors, and we’re trying to correct that. We’ve actually gotten information from students saying that they’re purchasing or procuring them there.”

Kilgore said there will always be consequences for students caught with any type of drug outside of school.

“You can potentially get some law enforcement consequences because [smoking] is against the law,” Kilgore said. “Minor in possession of tobacco is what we call it, [and] it is actually a crime. There’s always a law consequence if it’s an illegal drug, [especially] if it’s a felonious amount of drugs, [or] selling drugs in or around a school or what we call THC extract or [edibles]. Anything that’s a felony, you’ll get a law consequence.”

Kilgore also said that there are school consequences put in place for students seen with drugs on campus.

“There’s going to be some consequence [in regards to] school [as well]. Any drug, even nicotine, has a school consequence. 3-5 days [is the] first offense. The other thing to go along with that is if they ask to search your bag and you don’t let them, then it’s [assumed] you have the drugs or cigarettes. You’re still going to get the consequence. And then a third consequence is obviously your parents, and it’s probably the worst.” 

Overall, the anonymous source believes that smoking is as dangerous as the user makes it. 

“Smoking isn’t safe in the long run because it can have serious health risks, but you won’t overdose on weed,” the source said. “It can help influence you to make bad decisions, but that is up to the person. You just have to be mindful of what you are doing all the time.” 

Nurse Matthews said the repercussions of adolescent smoking extends past the consequences given by schools. 

“It’s a newer drug that’s used for actual medicinal purposes, but [experts] don’t know the full effects of it on the body,” Matthews said. “It can be extracted into THC, the fun, “high” chemical and CBD, versus other products that can be used for serious medicinal purposes. We don’t really know what the long term effects of smoking or ingesting just marijana [as opposed to tobacco] are, and that’s kind of your generation’s problem [to deal with]. It won’t affect you now nearly as much as it’s going to affect you when you’re older.”