Pubdate: Thu, 28 Oct 2010
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot
Author: Tom Ragan


Middle schoolers wear red as part of an anti-drug message, while high
school students debate merits of Proposition 19.

COSTA MESA - Many of the 600 Costa Mesa Middle School students wore
red shirts Thursday in recognition of Red Ribbon Week, an anti-drug
movement born in the Just Say No 1980s.

The annual demonstration fell days before voters will decide on
Proposition 19, which would decriminalize the recreational use of
marijuana for adults older than 21.

"They can legalize it," said Nabeel Salamen, 12, a seventh-grader,
"but it's going to be people's choice then to [make] their life worse."

The middle schoolers said they've been taught about the pitfalls of
drug abuse.

Hanna Filner, 12, a seventh-grader, cringed at the thought of her
healthy lungs turning black, as they were in the photographs that were
brought into the classroom.

And Kelsi Kusman, another seventh-grader, said she has seen
commercials and videos on methamphetamine addicts who "shake" and
"look crazy."

"Drugs are bad for you," she said. "It's just a bad idea. We're never
going to do it."

The sentiment at the adjacent high school, however, reflected the
disagreement statewide on whether it makes sense to legalize and tax
the drug or just restrict it to medicinal uses.

In Sandie Soldin's U.S. government class, for example, students have
been debating the pros and cons of all of the propositions on the
ballot, but the proposed marijuana law has gotten the most scrutiny.

"Most of my kids think that it's a good idea to legalize it," she
said. "But that was before the presentations. They were thinking,
'Ooh, ah, I can smoke marijuana and it will be really cool, but they
weren't really reading the proposition."

School district officials have sent a message of their own, firmly in
opposition to Proposition 19.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education recently
voted to oppose legalizing marijuana.

Whatever the outcome of the proposition, it's not going to have much
of an effect on the enforcement at public schools, said John Gates,
Costa Mesa High School's school resource officer.

"Anybody under 21 won't be allowed to possess it or buy it," said
Gates, a Costa Mesa police officer. "And it's certainly not going to
be allowed on high school campus."  
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