GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Marijuana certainly isn't a new problem in our schools, but following the legalization of the drug for both medical and recreational purposes, its presence is beginning to grow our school systems.
"We are seeing children of younger ages in possession and using marijuana," said Mesa County Resource Officer Mike Dillon.
He says the drug's use is on the rise in Colorado schools, in part due to the new medical and recreational use laws, which has made it much more available.
"Several cases I've had as an SRO have involved people stealing it from their parents or someone in the household who has medical marijuana, or just has marijuana under the new legal laws."
The laws may be more relaxed, but in the schools, Dillon says it needs to be taken seriously.
"I've had other cases where the kids have actually brought a considerable amount to a middle school, middle school aged children where they were planning on selling it to other kids in the school, which turns it into a felony."
And it's not just a statewide trend.
District 51 is no exception.
"We're seeing it a lot more in the schools and we're seeing it a lot more in the community as far as the illegal use for kids under the age of 18," said Tim Leon, Director of Safety, Security and Transportation for District 51.
Last school year, the number of marijuana-related expulsions in the district dropped for the first time since the legalization of medical use in 2010, but not before a high of 51 cases during the 2011-2012 school year, which was before Mesa County banned dispensaries.
The laws themselves may still be misunderstood, and it's possible that we're entering a time where new generations don't perceive marijuana in the same way older ones might.
"It's not alcohol, it's marijuana. So it's this generation's version of alcohol and they that it's legal, it's OK to use and it's not as bad as everyone says."
Leon said district-wide budget cuts have eliminated programs like D.A.R.E altogether, and school resource officers aren't being used to educate in the classroom on drugs due to funding.