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Breaking the stigma

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Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

Matt Martin

Matt Martin

Students abusing drugs come in all shapes and sizes

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The stigma around marijuana is being broken across the nation. The younger generations are welcoming pot into their culture along with the older generations. Many communities have a small batch of students who participate in illicit drug use and though Cannon Falls is no exception, it’s not an outlier either. I found out through in-depth interviews that the average smoker in Cannon Falls is, well, not average. It’s important to see the demographics of kids using pot to truly understand why kids are using, and what can be done to prevent them from using illegal means to fulfill their hopeful ends.

Pot smokers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some started out smoking at parties, others from a friend, some even tried it once at a Church Camp. “It’s super diverse. People you would not expect. It’s weird. Christians, jocks, emos, pretty much everybody.” Along with that, those that I interviewed came from every demographic I could think of that fits within Cannon Falls. Christians, Atheists, Democrats, Republicans, and those from different socioeconomic backgrounds all have experiences with pot.

Along with demographic changes, pot smoking in Cannon Falls has been in the decline since its heyday in the psychedelic seventies. Nicolette Hernke, current Art and Humanities teacher at Cannon Falls explained through her experience this new change. “I attended CFHMS in the late 70’s to the early 80’s…” she said. “It seems that there was a lot more teenage partying going on and not just in our district. This destructive behavior sparked organizations such as MADD, SADD and changing the legal drinking age from 19 to 21.” These organizations and other programs intended to inform students have been successful in decreasing the amount of students using drugs, even though nationally opioid use has gone up in adults.. She continued, “I believe students are now more knowledgeable about the effects of drugs and alcohol and are choosing a healthier lifestyle at CFHMS.” According to CHI, the Goodhue County Health Initiative, Cannon Falls Schools, as well as the rest of Goodhue County has experienced a significant decline in the use of illegal drugs, in the most recent statistics available.

For those that still use this illegal endeavor, picking the unhealthy choice can end you up on the wrong side of the law. Officer Paul Larson was able to give me some insight on the current situation with the CFPD. “I’d say there’s not a lot [of drug trafficking]. A majority of the large amounts of drugs we found on people or in cars are passing through Cannon Falls.” Because of this and that weed isn’t a big issue at the High School, the Cannon Falls Police Department is more focused on stopping the harder drugs, meth, heroin, and so forth.  However for those that do smoke can face some hefty ramifications, Officer Larson said, “…due to their age, warnings are not generally given. Giving a warning doesn’t carry any consequences…” This is why for their first offense, students are sent to a division class, and as continual offenses rack up they will be sent to treatment.

This information is not meant to draw conclusions on whether we should legalize marijuana or not. It also isn’t to show that Cannon Falls has a weed epidemic, as other schools have the same problem. It’s to educate that the average smoker isn’t the stereotypes we all believe them to be. Some are this way, but most have dreams, aspirations, and hopes to make a better future for themselves and a better living.

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Breaking the stigma