School officials in northern Colorado are asking parents to take care with their newly legal recreational marijuana, after fourth graders were caught dealing the drug on an elementary school campus.
John Gates, director of safety for Weld County School District 6, said Wednesday that the students involved, three 10-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl at Greeley's Monfort Elementary School, faced tough discipline but not suspension or expulsion. He would not elaborate on their punishment.
Only one student admitted to trying any of the drug, a small bite of an edible marijuana item, and a subsequent medical exam did not indicate any harmful effect had been caused, Gates said.
The marijuana appears to have been legally purchased by adults — grandparents in two families — and no charges were expected to be filed, Gates said. He said the parents of the students were concerned and working with the school on discipline.
Gates said a student who was not involved alerted school officials that a student sold marijuana to other students on Monday, and that on Tuesday a student tried to trade edible marijuana for some of the student seller's marijuana.
"This could not have happened had they secured their marijuana," Gates said of the grandparents, urging adults to take care with the drug. "Nothing good's going to come from having 10-year-olds find it, use it or take it to school."
In a letter sent home Tuesday, Monfort Principal Jennifer Sheldon told parents that because it's easier for adults to get marijuana, children potentially have greater access. Denver TV station KDVR posted the letter on its website:
"We urge all parents, grandparents and anyone who cares for children to treat marijuana as you would prescription drugs, alcohol or even firearms. This drug is potentially lethal to children, and should always be kept under lock and key, away from young people."
Gina Carbone, who helped found the group Smart Colorado to publicize concerns about the impact on children of marijuana legalization, applauded Sheldon's letter. Days after tens of thousands publicly lit up for the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver, Carbone said children and adults were hearing too from marijuana proponents, and not enough about the drug's dangers.
"Pot is celebrated and glorified and promoted. Kids are watching adults and this is the way adults are behaving," she said. "Here we have 4th graders trying to make a buck off marijuana."
While advocates say marijuana need not be treated as a dangerous drug and that its legal sale will have economic benefits, the experiment has so far been a challenge for Colorado.
Denver police say a man ate marijuana-infused candy before shooting and killing his wife last week, an attack that dispatchers heard during a 911 call the woman placed.
Her death followed that of a Wyoming college student who ate well over the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumped to his death from a hotel balcony in Denver.
State lawmakers are debating how to increase safety regulations, and grappling with how to plan budgets amid concerns marijuana tax collections will be unpredictable.