Is Drug Education to Blame for SWAT? – Pro

Sophia Bollag, Managing Editor

When several pounds of drugs were confiscated from buses taking local students to the SWAT ski trip in Elko, Nevada, the community reacted with an “it was bound to happen sometime” attitude. If anything was surprising about the incident, it was that the trip’s drug stash had finally been discovered, not that it existed in the first place.

Few people seem disturbed by the incident, which is disturbing, in and of itself. In transporting huge amounts of illegal substances, likely across state lines, the students had committed a federal crime.

Clearly for the students on the trip there was no indication, certainly no vibrant shift into Technicolor, to make them realize they were not in California, anymore. While the students knew they were in a different state, geographically, their actions demonstrate that they were unaware they had crossed over into different legal and cultural territory.

The penalty for trafficking even small amounts of marijuana is prison time and heavy fines, in addition to a permanent felony record.

“We had 250 kids,” Elko police chief Don Zumwalt told CBS San Francisco. “I could have written a citation and arrested them all and confiscated the buses, but logistically it would have been a nightmare.”

CBS reported that the juvenile detention facility in Elko had provisions to hold only 20 people.

“Las Vegas or Reno police might have done things differently,” Zumwalt said.

Because the students were let off with a warning, this became lost in the media coverage and discussions of the event. Few people seem to realize just how lucky these students are to not have gotten into much more serious trouble.

The party at fault for the SWAT trip fiasco is not the students. Drug usage by students in this community is so uninformed, it can barely be called a choice. The drug education at Miramonte, in addition to providing inadequate information about the health risks posed by drugs, does not inform students about the legal penalties of drug usage.

In the school’s defense, the long-term health risks of many drugs, marijuana included, are poorly documented because of the logistical obstacles in obtaining information about long-term health effects of any substance, especially an illegal one.

The legal penalties of drug use, however, are codified and readily available. The adults in the community have no excuse for inadequately educating their students and children about them.

In the Bay Area, drug usage is widely regarded with nonchalance. Both parents and students in the Miramonte community often refer to marijuana usage as something everyone does at least once. Recently, the movement to legalize marijuana has prompted parents, teachers, and other adults in influential positions to openly condone drug usage. One Miramonte parent has even gone public on national television about the marijuana-growing operation she set up in her home. Almost all drug education in the state, from the program at Oaksterdam University that teaches its students pot-growing techniques to drug education at Miramonte, accepts drugs as a legitimate aspect of our culture.

This nonchalant attitude toward illegal drugs fostered by the lax drug education system seems to be the reason the students on the SWAT trip were caught. The police organized a search of the bus only after witnessing some students from the trip smoking in a public place. That’s right: several students were naïve enough to flaunt their drugs publically after crossing the border into a less liberal state. These kids clearly need a wake-up call, one that should have been provided by drug education both in school and from their parents: when it comes to nonchalant attitudes towards marijuana usage, there’s no place like home.

Interested in the counterargument? Check out staff writer Devin Mottier’s: