Do School Drug Policies Increase Teens’ Marijuana Use?

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Have you ever wondered if out-of-school suspension actually prevents students from continuing misbehavior? Teens essentially get a day off for violating policies such as illicit drug use on school grounds. It turns out this type of punishment is not the best way to get students to learn their lesson—at least when it comes to drug use. A new study reveals that out-of-school suspension drug policies actually increase the likelihood of students using marijuana in the future.

Researchers from the American Public Health Association set out to investigate how students’ marijuana use is impacted by the type of drug policy their school implements.

The study showed that those who attended schools that enforced out-of-school suspension policies for drug-related incidents were 1.6 times more likely to become marijuana users the following year than those who attended schools without the policy.

On the other hand, schools that used an abstinence-based prevention method or counseled teens about the dangers of marijuana use showed a lower likelihood of marijuana use.

Lead author of the study, Tracy Evans-Whipp, concludes:

It is important for schools and state and federal agencies to identify effective methods, showing for the first time the impact of the school policy on marijuana use.

You can help your kids stay away from marijuana by encouraging abstinence messages and drug policies that don’t involve suspensions. Talk to your teens about the long-term effects of marijuana use.

To learn more about teen substance abuse, subscribe to Choices, the health and well-being magazine for teens, published by Scholastic.

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