HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Arrests at High Schools No Cause for Panic
Pubdate: Sat, 19 Oct 2002
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Author: Cherri Greeno, Record Staff
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Youth)


CAMBRIDGE -- Principals at Cambridge high schools say the recent drug 
arrests of some of their students is no reason for alarm.

"It is definitely the minority," said Jacob Hespeler Secondary School 
vice-principal Peter Ritchie. "There's 98 per cent . . . (of students) that 
lead clean, healthy lives."

Police arrested 11 people on drug counts last week. Seven of them were 
students at Cambridge high schools and were between the ages of 14 to 18.

A total of 16 charges were laid, 11 for marijuana possession, four for the 
possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and one for the 
possession of the narcotic Percocet.

In total, 225 grams (eight ounces) of marijuana were seized, worth about 
$1,600. All charges were made as a result of police seeing students smoking 
or trying to sell the drugs.

Drug paraphernalia, including scales and homemade pipes, were also seized.

Police said the arrests were made in and around Monsignor Doyle Catholic 
Secondary School, St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School, Southwood 
Secondary School, Preston High School, Glenview Park Secondary School and 
Jacob Hespeler Secondary School.

Ritchie said he was not surprised to hear of arrests at his school.

"It's a community problem that exists everywhere," he said. "To say it 
exists everywhere but here would not be very accurate."

Southwood Secondary School vice principal Steve Zack said it is a minority 
of students who smoke marijuana at his school; most go off school property.

The students caught at Southwood were finished classes for the day and on 
their way home.

Zack said he supports the drug enforcement initiative and that Southwood 
works with the police to find spots where students may go to smoke.

Only one student from Monsignor Doyle was arrested, but even one arrest 
concerns principal Frank Johnson.

"Every school has a problem with drugs," Johnson said. "It is definitely 
the minority of students. But that select few worry me."

Johnson said he holds programs at his school to teach students and teachers 
the dangers of drugs.

Police detachments in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge all have a liaison 
officer who works with students at local high schools and who contacts 
police when a crime occurs. Cambridge, however, went a step further and put 
in place the drug enforcement program, active for about five years.

Waterloo regional police Sgt. Paul Lobsinger said it's not because 
Cambridge has more drugs in its high schools, but that it is considered 
more of a priority -- mainly because of the high number of home-grow 
operations throughout the city.

While students may consider marijuana harmless, Lobsinger said he disagrees.

"We consider it a dangerous drug based on the levels of THC we are seeing," 
said Lobsinger.

"It is not the same as the '60s or '70s. It is a lot more potent now, which 
makes it more addictive and more dangerous."

THC -- short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the main active chemical in 
marijuana -- is what gives the drug "its punch," and is "what hooks you on 
marijuana," according to Lobsinger, who said the levels of THC have risen 
from about one to three per cent in the 1960s and 1970s to about 15 per 
cent today.

Staff Sgt. Ray Massicotte said the levels of THC found in marijuana "depend 
on who the grower is and what technique they are using."

As well, many marijuana growers use insecticides and pesticides. When it 
comes time to harvest the plants, growers have no method of cleansing them, 
Massicotte said. So, along with marijuana, smokers are inhaling dangerous 

While the government and drug users push to legalize it, police say they 
will continue their battle against it.

"Marijuana is not dangerous because it is illegal. It's illegal because it 
is dangerous," said Massicotte.

"It is not a soft drug. Make no mistake about it. It is not a soft drug."

Massicotte said he has been arresting drug users, including several high 
school students, for more than 24 years and knows the effect it has on a 
person's health.

"There is no good that can come of it," he said. "I have not met one heroin 
addict or crack addict that didn't start down the road to addiction by 
using marijuana."

Lobsinger said heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and Rohypnol -- the date rape drug 
- -- are also popular drugs used by high school students.

"It's all available," Lobsinger said. "It's just a matter of wanting it and 
getting it."

It appears many students find it easy to get.

A 2001 study conducted by Toronto's Centre For Addiction and Mental Health 
found that, for the first time, more students are smoking marijuana than 

The study -- which measured adolescent drug use in Canada -- found that 
45.7 per cent of students have smoked marijuana in Grade 11, compared to 
35.8 per cent who smoked cigarettes.

It also found that 29.8 per cent of students in Grades 7 to OAC used 
marijuana, compared to 23.6 per cent who smoked cigarettes.

Pat Fisher, health promotion officer with Waterloo Region's health 
department, said while many marijuana users are not considered regular 
smokers, some do it daily.

"That's problematic," said Fisher. "It's really troubling when people are 
using it often."
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