Town Square

Marijuana use by middle school kids

Original post made by concerned parent on Sep 26, 2013

I am a parent of a middle school boy, and have discovered that he has been experimenting with marijuana. I also know that a number of his friends are doing this, and that it is a schoolmate who supplies him with it using a medical marijuana card (do not know if it belongs to the kid or his parents).

Are other parents aware of this, and if so what can we do about it?


Posted by Experiments have a control group, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 26, 2013 at 12:13 pm

[Portion removed.]

My two cents: get counseling. Your kid as well. This isn't an 'experiment'. Very few kids can negotiate pot and successfully compete in HS academically. Mine didn't.

I didn't.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Concerned parent -

Experimentation is a normal part of teenage land. My advice is to ask your son why he tried pot in the first place. He may have been pressured or simply curious. Try to stay calm so he can share the truth with you. Share your feelings about why he should not be experimenting with illegal substances, especially at such a young age. If this is a one time occurrence, making too big of a deal about it may backfire.

Monitor his behavior and where he can be when he is not at home (hanging out at Jordan or parks once it is dark is not a good idea). If this is not a one time occurrence, talk to his pediatrician or the counselor at Jordan. Jordan probably has ACS counselors available for the students, but they are only interns and while helpful for kids who just need to vent, they are not so helpful for real issues. And BTW, medical marijuana is VERY common in Palo Alto, but I don't think kids under 18 have access to medical marijuana cards.

Posted by Ronnie, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I find little baggies from one of the medical marijuana places near my house (which is near an elementary school) all the time. I also find wrappers for Swisher Sweets and Phillies Blunts around as well. I'm sure you have to be 18 to get the "medical" marijuana, but I'm sure that older siblings, or older friends just get it and provide it to their friends. Lets face it - the "medical" marijuana isn't just for sick people. Anyone can get it who has "headaches" or "anxiety." Its just a rubber stamp.

They all smoke up, then drive to and from the area near my house. I have called the police numerous times, but generally they don't do anything other than to scare them off. The kids usually scatter into the bushes, and the cops understandably don't want to spend all night chasing some doped up kids.

I think this is the problem with the dispensaries - it does make it more accessible to kids. Personally, I consider myself very libertarian, so I really don't care if any particular adult decides to use marijuana as long as they don't drive and put others at risk, but clearly, the use goes beyond that.

Sometimes, mercifully, they have left their cars around, and the tell tale signs are bottles of visine in the cars to combat the red eyes. "Its for swimming, mom!"

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

If a child is obtaining marijuana (whether legally or not), I wouldn't want my child hanging around with him. Maybe your son didn't even like it but just wanted to try it so it's not something to overreact to. Some kids can handle it in their lives and still do well in school, but I wouldn't bet on it. I wouldn't contact the parents, as parents can get defensive. Keep it between you and your family if you can. And remember to go easy - kids will do the opposite if parents threaten or tell them not to do something.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Funny, I don't know that much about it, but I have never heard of a single pot dispensary that dispenses pot in "little baggies". Can anyone speak to this?

I hear a lot of people speak up about things like this and other things like they know for sure what is doing on and who is doing it - and people ought to keep in mind that oftentimes those who sound the most sure don't know what they are talking about.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2013 at 9:28 pm

I recommend that you read the book "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction" by David Sheff. It is a true story and took place in Marin. The story starts with the father discovering pot in his 8th grade son's backpack. At the time, the father decides it is not a big deal and that lots of kids experiment.
A long, harrowing story unfolds after that...the one conclusion that has stuck with me years later is the father's desperate wish that he had handled the middle school discovery very differently.

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

Thanks to the many who posted to offer your good advice. I appreciate it. And Mom, thank you for the book recommendation. I will definitely read that.

Posted by Lets all panic, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Have high scholl kids ever NOT been able to get pot? Remember, the vast majority of kids who experiment with pot turn out just fine. In fact some grow up to be President.

Posted by Move out!, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm

If you do not want your child with drug users, then do not sent them to Palo Alto Schools, this is where they get it. Also there is supplier at the mobile homes. He is very busy because Palo Altan Teens use it a lot. Remember drugs are part of our American cultrue. Forgot to say that It is also sold at the middle and PAUSD high school bathrooms. Yes they have all t he services they need in one place.

Posted by Vape Pens?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I have a related question: I recently caught my freshman using a Vape Pen with her friend. They claim that they're just adding fruit-flavored liquids and enjoy the smell and taste. Is this plausible? Or does her having a vape pen mean that she's probably using it to smoke pot? They had colored liquids in small bottles, and I only detected a fruity smell.

Posted by Parental, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm

@ Vape Pens? - in my experience vape pens are usually used with pot, and kids use them instead of smoking joints because
a) the 'I enjoy the smell & taste' excuse works for a good while; &
b) parents can't detect the pot smoke

I found same thing in our house, and there was pot/hash resin right in there with the rest of the vape pen equipment.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

"Move out!": Drugs are at every high school. I have no data, but have two students at Paly. I think it's the partiers or confused who engage often in drugs, which is a small number at Paly.

The most important thing is to let a child know he/she is loved, and show your love and respect/do things for that child/spend time with the child/communicate with the child (why does anyone have children if they don't want to spend time with them?). Buy them a gift (right, materialism alone cannot buy love, but in connection with love, it helps). Remember them when they were babies and how happy you were to have them. Children cannot be loved too much and they want to be respected. Just because they are independent and out of diapers doesn't mean they don't need the support of their parents. Children always want to please their parents; they rebel only when they don't feel loved/respected. If they feel the parents care about them, they will want to follow their parents' wishes and they will have the confidence to say no. It's never too late to start connecting. Don't be stubborn - if you feel you've not been the perfect parent, tell them. If you continue to be nice to someone, they will eventually give-in. Send them off to college with love in their heart and they will have the confidence to make the right decisions.

Disclaimer: Not saying the original poster has this issue.

Posted by Friend of Bill, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm

addiction is a disease. It's not caused by lack of love. People who post platitudes like "love your child" have never had a close family member addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you had, then you would know 2 things: love has nothing to do with it. One might as well respond to someone who has a child with leukemia that you should "love your child." "Love" does as much good against addiction as it does against cancer, diabetes, or any other disease. the other thing you would know is that if you have an addicted child, you should consider Al-Anon.

Middle schoolers trying out weed are not addicts. You don't need to read a book about a child who was addicted to meth and almost died. For crying out loud. However, if you have a family history of addiction or alcoholism, you will want to talk to your child about the danger of drugs and alcohol given that family history. It won't do any good but it will give you something to do while you are waiting to see if your kid is an addict.

Is your child in 6th grade or 8th grade. If the former, worry. If the latter, don't worry unless there are other issues -- falling grades, bad friends, lies.

In Palo Alto, weed use is almost universal among teens. You can't tell if your child has a problem just because they smoke weed. The popular kids and athletes all drink and smoke in both high schools so that's just no indicator of anything.

Posted by So sloppy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Marijuana use is not universal among our teens. There is plenty of survey data from PAUSD you can peruse. A significant number of our parents use marijuana and communicate the message that it is acceptable for our youth. Like many living and working in our community, there are staff who use marijuana, but who knows if the number is significant or not. Our teens are not dumb, they suspect which ones might be using. Bottom line is a message that we get to pick and choose which laws and rules we follow is confusing.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I think it is interesting that the streaking incident on the first day of school was taken a lot more seriously by faculty and parents, than any incident of drug use by students. There are drugs at school as well as smoking and teen sex. Streaking seems to be the one that upsets the community the most.

Posted by Both are popular, a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Vape pens are very popular to use for vaporizing flavored oils. There's a whole ridiculous industry around it(that i don't get). They are also popular for using cannabis concentrates. If its used for cannabis, you should be able to tell.

Posted by Sean, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:10 pm

"addiction is a disease."

No it isn't, it is a psychological neurosis. The disease model is promoted by the 12-step programs and various other excuse makers, with money in the game. It should not be "treated" as a disease, because that is total loser model. Cold turkey is the only way. Just say no.

Posted by You're Blind, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I'm more worried about the message our drinking parents and community members convey to our teens. The bars, the happy hours, the tailgate parties and the booze fueled trips to Tahoe or Vegas. Most would not ever consider these activities without making sure their favorite drug was readily available.

We worry about pot and hope our kids don't use it while we show them how important alcohol is to us with our beer, wine and our cocktails. We worry about the benign and ignore what will kill them. What could kill them tonight.

We hope they don't smoke pot, but its not the pot that will kill them.
They'll die of alcohol related deaths in their cars and during their fraternity pledge weeks.
They'll die in drinking games during spring break, and they'll die passed out in the cold from hypothermia. These are stories we read every single year and we'll continue to hear them as long as people who drink pretend they don't use drugs and create a distraction away from the most commonly abused killer and one of the more dangerous drugs our teens can get a hold of.
Yes, please do worry about the pot while you pour a nice glass of drugs tonight with dinner. Mmmm, hypocrisy with subtle oak undertones. Enjoy.

Posted by Vape Pens?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Both are popular wrote: "Vape pens are very popular to use for vaporizing flavored oils. There's a whole ridiculous industry around it(that i don't get). They are also popular for using cannabis concentrates. If its used for cannabis, you should be able to tell."

How can you tell??

Posted by Anymouse, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Hello,I wanted to address a couple of comments on this topic.

"Funny, I don't know that much about it, but I have never heard of a single pot dispensary that dispenses pot in "little baggies". Can anyone speak to this?"

Yes, they are referred to as: "Smell Proof Bags".
They come with re-sealable zipper, have a clear front, inside foil combination allows "patients" to view the medicine prior to, or after purchase.

So, what some comments are referring are not your household ziploc bags, but resealable pouch type bags with the dispensary name and the name of the cannabis in the bag.

At one of the cannabis doctor's offices that a friend recently went into get their recommendation letter for the dispensaries, the Doctor actually revealed that a couple had come in with their child, (I cannot recall the age, but I think it was 13), and he said he gave them the recommendation for their CHILD's use, but the parent's must purchase as you must be over the age of 18 to purchase.

What I don't understand is some comments here state there is a dispensary in this area, I know there are delivery drivers that are in/out of the area all day long, but not a stand alone dispensary. I don't have any idea where this information is from.

As far as the VAPE pen, these cost a minimum of $69 for a useless one that has been known to break very shortly after the first use, so any teenager with a VAPE pen has invested a minimum of $99, (that is the on the low side for a decent VAPE pen).

The VAPE pens you can lookup online, and you can see few are used for only cannabis use, most are for the HIGH concentrates of oils, which carry a much higher THC and Cannabinoid content then straight flower / cannabis. "Flowers" being the name used for cannabis.

I wish you the best in helping your son.

Posted by Anymouse, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm

@ Vape Pens

If you open up the pen, you will see residue of cannabis, if they are using for cannabis, (as Most VAPE pens cannot be used for cannabis, they are ONLY for concentrates. There are very few vape pens that can be used for cannabis.

If you are NOT seeing residue of cannabis, then they are using for concentrates. Or, look up the brand name of the pen, and find out online what it is used for, either concentrates for cannabis. I believe there is ONE pen that can be used for both.

Posted by ItMightBeYou, a resident of Community Center
on Sep 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Here's the score - if you voted to legalize pot, you should not be surprised that "medical" pot shows up in middle schools.
[Portion removed.]

Posted by What a Crock of B.S., a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm

No, most kids in high school are not engaging in pot use. No one has time to even take a hit because there's too much schoolwork.

Posted by Not ok, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

This is very worrisome and you need to talk to a counselor. You can't predict whether your son will be one who tries it out and finds it's not worth it or one who spirals down into trying other drugs or worse. Drug use is a serious problem even in this wealthy community, but NOT all students are using. I think the percentage of the population using might be about the same as similar communities... But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be alarmed. I know of at least four Palo Alto teens who have had serious enough issues that they have been sent away to rehab schools.

Posted by Duke to Stanford, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 28, 2013 at 6:20 am

When I was an undergrad at Duke there was an on campus survey about pot. About 60% had tried it, about 40% continued currently. That was late 90's. Reading the guy's rant about booze reminded me, we also had several alcohol related death's that year. Interesting when you think critically about it. Where should our message be focused wrt accessible intoxicants and the worry about our kids?

Posted by Matt, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm

How does your middle schooler have enough money to buy pot? I grew up in Palo Alto too, but didnt have a blank check to go buy narcotics.

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 29, 2013 at 12:26 am

@Matt - it is cheap, especially now that it is legally retailed. $5 a gram at dispensaries.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I teach in your local Palo Alto high school and I can tell you that regardless of socio-economic backgrounds, class, race and gender kids are smoking pot. Eyes blazed, some obvious, some real smart in hiding it. This is not "those" kid's problems. It's probably your little angel with an open campus. Educate yourself because slang and lingo evolve every year....

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 29, 2013 at 4:36 pm

@anonymous: Any estimate on how many are high per classroom? I'm guessing it's a small number because I have 3 at Paly and they think the majority of students are not engaging in illegal partying.

Posted by cautionary tale, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I went to high school near the border with Mexico, so maybe it's just where we lived, I think the kids here have SO much more going for them, and I see far fewer signs of self-destructive behavior including drug use. I also see far more parent involvement here. But I'm sure there will be too much drinking, drugs, etc for some as there is everywhere.

I want to share a cautionary tale. A friend from high school was caught during a traffic stop with more than a certain amount of marijuana on him, was automatically called a "dealer" under the law in that state, which was a felony. It was just bad luck, he wasn't even a regular user. I've known this person almost my whole life, he was not a dealer, not a stoner, just a kid who was temporarily experimenting like a lot of kids do. He hasn't used even marijuana for years. But because of that one situation, he had to say "yes" on his employment applications as to whether he has been convicted of a felony, into his adult life, and it's affected the whole trajectory of his life.

Most kids here work really hard and are proud of their accomplishments -- they can understand what they are putting at risk. I don't think people should ignore it.

Posted by open your eyes, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

this is a new age. everyone is smoking pot and wether you will accept it or not, if your child goes to gunn or paly he or she most likely smoke pot. I graduated from gunn a few years back and can say that people from every different social group (even people who i thought were "nerds") smoked weed. I guess its easy to see how they hide it since its obvious so many parents are in denial. Good luck because its 2013 and going green is the way to go. My best advice is to roll up the grass for yourself and forget about your worries.

Posted by Drugs-Use-In-Schools, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

The PAUSD Wellness Survey (link below) contains a good look at the alcohol and drug use of students in the PAUSD:

Web Link

If you didn't look at this survey when it was originally released, it's never too late.

Posted by Bill Hixon, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

@Drugs-Use-In-Schools: You know the students treat those surveys as complete jokes? They practically close their eyes while they're filling in random bubbles...

Posted by Mom, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Agree that the surveys don't always reveal the truth. Kids are probably laughing at this thread. "Look how the parents are freaking out!"

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 30, 2013 at 12:14 pm

The kids will be parents someday, just as the parents were once kids. Nothing changes.

"If you remember the sixties, you couldn't really have been there."

Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Open your eyes,

Ummm, you really think kids smoking pot makes this a new age? I actually have to hand it to all the parents around here that anyone thinks kids smoking pot somehow wasn't happening 30 to 40 years ago.

Oh, and that their parents never touched the stuff (and had sex only in wedlock, after the age of 21 and only for purposes of procreation).

Unfortunately, pot smoking's still a bad idea for younger teens--not great for the older ones either, but the younger a kid starts, the more likely the whole substance abuse thing is to be an issue.

Posted by Drug-Use-In-School, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:21 pm

"Students treat those suveys as a complete joke .."

Really? Well, what about the parents, and the school officials? Do they consider these surveys a waste of time?

PTA parents parse youth wellness data
Web Link

Not too many comments offered by parents that this was a big joke.

Posted by Bill Hixon, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm

@Drug-Use-In-School: So I tell you that the data for the study is bogus because the kids don't take it seriously and you point me to a study where 30 parents (not psychologists) tried to derive some findings from the bogus data. If the source data is bad, the resulting findings will be bad...

Posted by Drug-Use-In-School, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

> So I tell you that the data for the study is bogus because
> the kids don't take it seriously

And people are supposed to believe you, because?

o) Are you the parent of all the children in the distict?

o) Have you talked to all the children who took the survey?

o) How come you didn't go to the district, tell them what you are telling us, and demand that the survey be discarded, and all further surveys involving student input be cancelled?

Can you answer any of these questions with answers that give us any idea that you know what you are talking about?

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

To Mr. Bill Hixon: And you are...? The one true voice that should be listened to - over 1515 Palo Alto youth voices that are reflected in the CHKS results or 2683 student voices in the Developmental Assets survey results? Someone who is familiar with both these surveys and who has determined that they are bogus? Because you happen to know that kids "treat them as complete jokes"? Because you are...?
[Portion removed.]

Posted by Bill Hixon, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Because I am a student... at Palo Alto High School. You can't beat first-hand experience.

I'm not sure why you are so against believing me, but when kids are handed these surveys to do in class they absolutely treat them as a waste of time. VERY FEW students answer truthfully. Some try to be funny. Some bubble random circles as fast as they can to be done with it. Some answer in a way that they will seem more "cool". The teachers administering these surveys don't care either.

Of course parents don't see them as a joke. I mean, look at some of the parents in this thread. They take these survey results as gospel.

Please, please, please - ask your children how their peers treat in-class surveys. I'm sure you parents would love to live in a world where in-class survey results are a great indicator for the zeitgeist of student emotions, but that just is not the case. Sorry.

Stop giving surveys and acting on those flawed results. Parent YOUR kids.

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I appreciate PA Online's tight facilitation of this board - and should have paused to calm down before hitting "submit". Trying again:

I believe it is irresponsible and harmful to categorically dismiss the voices of actual youth - yes, even those collected in surveys. If their answers surprise us, our first reaction should be to listen and dig deeper for understanding - not to simply write them off and disparage their character with old, unfair and inaccurate stereotypes.

Posted by Bill Hixon, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I'm all for parents hearing the voice of the student body. That's a great approach. I'm just saying that surveys are a particularly terrible tool for capturing the student body's honest feelings. Is that really such a controversial stance to take?

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm

The California Health Kids Survey was web-based (online)- therefore no bubbles, no pages to draw upon.

Bill is suggesting we should discount the thousands of student voices expressed on surveys - but we should definitely listen to his. And yet he consciously chooses to throw his own voice away on surveys - even though he knows adults pay attention to the results.

I say we listen to them all and dig deeper to understand.

Posted by Bill Hixon, a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

@Not so fast: You're being incredibly stubborn and naive on this particular point. It doesn't matter whether the survey is on paper or online. In-class surveys are not taken seriously.

And you've constructed a straw man argument. I never said we should discount the thousands of student voices (what an emotional image you've drawn in our heads!). My argument is simply that in-class surveys are an ineffectual tool for recording true student sentiments. Sure, it would be SUPER easy if you could hand out some surveys and receive 100% genuine responses, but that's a childish notion.

Do not read into the findings of any in-class survey. Find alternative ways of capturing the emotional well-being of your children and the greater student body.

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 7:45 pm

No straw man argument. By your claim that students don't take surveys seriously, you send the message that thousands of student responses should be disregarded.

The careful analysis of multiple years of surveys suggest that while some students have not taken the surveys seriously, the vast majority of students actually have. I see responses as their voices -and worth listening to. Yours too - but as one of many.

So we just disagree and that's fair. Final words - when the data is so different than one expects it should be - it's too easy to write it all off. Respectfully, please check out "false consensus" and "cognitive dissonance" and then check out the science behind these surveys. You may be underestimating your peers.

Posted by beware of surveys, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Not so fast,

These surveys are not "the voices of actual youth" because the surveys for youth are written by adults. Just like surveys written for adults are not the voices of adults, they are the voice of the surveys.

Surveys manipulate too easily with the type of questions, and how the answers to the questions are interpreted. They can mask real issues.

Maybe you can describe the survey questions that relate to suicide and academic stress which I would consider health issues. What kind of results did they turn up the last 3 and 5 years for Palo Alto. Any changes in stress levels?

This being said, I would say that most kids are probably not smoking pot in Palo Alto by virtue of demographics. Unless Asian and Hispanic kids have become stoners, these are groups that don't usually have parents with medical marihuana cards. That probably takes care of over half of PAUSD students. Then you have your types that focus on school and other things that require not being high all the time. This group may end up doing their experimentation later in college, but for now are out of the scene. And this may sound like heresy in CA, but some people never experiment with drugs and they are perfectly ok.

Instead of surveys people should be focusing on their own kids, AND who they are hanging out with. Get informed, decide what you want for your kid, (and if you are a kid, decide what you want for yourself), and you change anything, especially parents.

As long as you are willing to live by the law, and rules, and accept related consequences, it's really quite a personal matter how far you want your kids to experiment, whether it's drugs, sex, etc.

Posted by beware of surveys, a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 30, 2013 at 10:25 pm

"you change anything, especially parents."

meant to say

you can change anything

one more thing - among the things that nobody should experiment with of course is drunk driving and I would add not driving high either. There is research that drivers who are high can be even more dangerous than drunk drivers. And of course no texting at all while driving.