Suspension leads to more pot use among teens, study finds

March 20, 2015 by Deborah Bach

Suspending kids from school for using marijuana is likely to lead to more—not less—pot use among their classmates, a new study finds.

Counseling was found to be a much more effective means of combating marijuana use. And while enforcement of anti-drug policies is a key factor in whether teens use marijuana, the way schools respond to policy violators matters greatly.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and in Australia, compared drug policies at schools in Washington state and Victoria, Australia, to determine how they impacted student marijuana use.

The results startled researchers: Students attending schools with suspension policies for illicit drug use were 1.6 times more likely than their peers at schools without such policies to use marijuana in the next year—and that was the case with the student body as a whole, not just those who were suspended.”

That was surprising to us,” said co-author Richard Catalano, professor of social work and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “It means that suspensions are certainly not having a deterrent effect. It’s just the opposite.”

By contrast, the study found that students attending schools with policies of referring pot-using students to a school counselor were almost 50 percent less likely to use marijuana. Other ways of responding to policy violators—sending them to educational programs, referring them to a school counselor or nurse, expelling them or calling the police—were found to have no significant impact on marijuana use…

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Source: Suspension leads to more pot use among teens, study finds

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