Cannabis most popular at school

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2012

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Pupils as young as 13 are taking recreational drugs into Christchurch schools.

Cannabis is the most popular drug among Christchurch youths, but police say "good kids" are getting involved in criminal behaviour as a result of alcohol.

One mother, who found that her 15-year-old daughter was buying and smoking cannabis at her high-decile school, said she was worried drugs were "being handed out like candy".

A medium-decile intermediate school recently excluded a boy for taking cannabis to school.

The National Addiction Centre says cannabis is the most popular recreational drug, but alcohol remains the most heavily used substance by youths across the city.

The mother, who did not wish to be named to protect her daughter's identity, has since removed her daughter from the school.

"I read on her Facebook page she was going to buy a tinny from her friend," she said. "I asked her where does she get the opportunity to smoke and access these things, and she said they do it on the school sports field."

The principal of the intermediate school, which The Press is not naming to protect the identity of the child, said a pupil took cannabis to school last term.

It was not used or sold on school property. Fellow pupils brought it to the attention of staff and the pupil was excluded.

"It is uncommon at this school, but we have had this once before about three years ago," the principal said.

The school had used the incident to educate pupils about the dangers associated with drugs and it emailed parents to tell them what had happened.

"We have to realise that school is a reflection of society and we need to empower students and give them strategies and the bravery to say no," the principal said.

National Addiction Centre director Doug Sellman said he was working with a 14-year-old Christchurch girl who smoked cannabis regularly and was binge drinking at least 48 standard units a week.

"She drinks at least eight RTDs [on] Friday and Saturday night and one other night in the week; this is typical behaviour," he said.

"She is smoking cannabis as well, but not as much as she drinks. She would use more cannabis if she had more money. Other drugs are too expensive."

She had used cocaine, Ritalin (methylphenidate, commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), BZP (benzylpiperazine, the active ingredient in party pills) and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) sporadically; no more than about three times each, he said. Sellman said he saw a 70-30 split between alcohol and recreational drugs.

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Police alcohol strategy and enforcement team leader Sergeant Al Lawn said youths were getting involved in criminal behaviour as a result of alcohol.

"They are doing things that are risky, criminal, that they would not normally do if they were not under the influence," he said.

- The Press

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