Marijuana Use Up in Some County Schools

By Joan Little Of the Post-Dispatch | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 13, 1994 | Go to article overview

Marijuana Use Up in Some County Schools


Joan Little Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Smoking pot is on the increase among some high school students in St. Louis County, according to school officials, police officers and students.

"Freshman or sophomore year, I didn't see it nearly as much, but now it's like a higher form of cigarette smoking," said Katie Reinert, a senior at Kirkwood High School. "It's not a big deal anymore. It's really common now to find out that someone has tried it."

A statewide survey of more than 54,000 Missouri students in the spring of 1993 showed a 4 percent increase in marijuana smoking and a 3 percent increase in drinking. But far more students still use alcohol than smoke marijuana.

Here, the increases in marijuana use are larger, officials say.

In the Parkway School District, marijuana use was up 20 percent among seniors in 1993 over 1991, said Helen Geurkink, health coordinator for the West County district.

She said that last year she began noticing a change in the way students talked about drugs.

"More kids are talking about using marijuana," she said. "We're seeing more T-shirts with drug logos. That's an indication that usage is up and it's more accepted."

Use of marijuana is also up in high schools in the Kirkwood and Rockwood school districts, officials said.

Kirkwood High Principal Franklin McCallie said that marijuana use at his school had grown to where he is considering hiring security guards for the school's three parking lots.

"Students are smoking before school in the parking lot," McCallie said. "We have underclassmen slipping out to the parking lots at lunch time."

McCallie said Kirkwood staff had "smelled more marijuana this year than last year." He said it reminded him of the early 1970s when he was working in a Chicago school. "We had so much marijuana in the bathrooms you constantly smelled it," he said.

The current wave of marijuana use is nothing new. Kirkwood High had problems with marijuana in the late 1970s and again in 1987-89, McCallie said.

Reinert, the Kirkwood senior, said she had frequently seen teens smoking marijuana at weekend parties and had seen students come to school stoned.

Reinert, 18, said the movie "Dazed and Confused" is something of a cult hit among some Kirkwood students. The movie features pot smoking by a group of high school seniors celebrating their last day of school in 1976.

Allie Burnet, another Kirkwood senior, said she felt school officials were overreacting.

"I don't think it's really as big of a deal, because I think most of our parents have tried it," she said. Burnet says she goes to just as many parties where there is no pot smoking or drinking as to parties where those activities go on. …

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