Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Medical marijuana clinics and student drug use are separate issues

Ballot Measure C would allow up to three medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Palo Alto. You may be a voting citizen who is worried about the possible consequences of the opening of these dispensaries. Indeed, you may be in favor of medical marijuana in general, but in this instance, you may be planning to vote no on Measure C because you want to protect students from exposure to illegally redistributed marijuana. Verde does not intend to convince you that medical marijuana dispensaries should or should not be opened in Palo Alto. We simply want to point out that it is unlikely that students who do not already smoke, will, if dispensaries are opened, given the existing proliferation of marijuana among Paly students.

If you’re unconditionally against medical marijuana, then vote no on Measure C. But if you’re someone who would otherwise be a proponent of medical marijuana, but doesn’t want students to have greater access, we warn that a no vote is unlikely to change the situation on campus. Marijuana is thoroughly integrated in the Paly community, and preventing a few pot clinics from opening isn’t going to change that. It’s just going to maintain the existing inconvenience for legitimate users in Palo Alto, who must travel elsewhere to get their medicine.

Marijuana is already available to students in such quantities that if students want to get high, they can. Students who do not smoke marijuana generally abstain for personal reasons, not for lack of availability.

Verde talked to several student users and dealers of marijuana, all of whom agreed that marijuana is very available without any local dispensaries. One student said she could easily list five marijuana dealers off the top of her head, and that people occasionally just give her marijuana.

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“It’s way easier to get weed than it is to get alcohol,” says Jeremiah, a senior whose name has been changed. “You could literally go smoke at lunch every day. I’ve never bought [marijuana] during the week, but I have no doubt that you could.”

Other students agree with Jeremiah that, although alcohol is the legal substance, marijuana is easier to come by.

“Getting alcohol is difficult because you need someone with a fake ID, or someone who is actually 21, or someone who is willing to steal it, to get it for you,” says Humphrey, a senior whose name has been changed. “Getting pot is just so easy because anyone can get it from their friends, who get it from their friends, who get it from whomever.”

In fact, similar barriers exist to prevent students from buying medical marijuana; minors must have a letter of parental consent and a letter from a doctor to obtain a medical marijuana ID card. Therefore, students would be no more able to obtain marijuana against their parents wishes, legally or illegally, should local dispensaries open.

Voting no on Measure C isn’t going to make it harder for students to do drugs. In the end, only the student can make that decision, and no amount of environmental controls exists to enable voters or parents to force students into making the right one.