Pittsburgh Public Schools relax marijuana penalties for students

PITTSBURGH — How much punishment should be doled out to students caught with marijuana at school?

With marijuana legal in some states and talks of its legalization in Pennsylvania, the state's largest school district changed their policies.

Rice Krispie treats and brownies laced with pot were found at two Pittsburgh high schools earlier this year.

>>READ: Possible pot brownies, other desserts discovered at a Pittsburgh high school

Last year, students caught with those items would have faced a 10-day suspension and up to a year in alternative education.

"With the legalization of marijuana being such a hot topic in the media right now, so they kind of think, ‘Oh, it's not a big deal I have marijuana.' And that's not all of our stance," said Carrick High School Principal Angel Washington. "Our stance is it's still illegal just as if a student would bring alcohol that's illegal."


While its illegal, the district has recently relaxed its policy when it comes to marijuana. Last year, students caught with any amount of marijuana faced a 10-day suspension and up to a year in alternative education but no counseling. The district discovered students were missing too many classes.

Now students with a first offense with less than five grams of marijuana will get five days suspension, if they agree to attend nine hours of drug education counseling outside the school day.

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"Given all the action different states were taking on marijuana, we felt it was a good opportunity for us to include and support kids with these types of infractions with mandating alcohol and other drug education," said Chief of School Performance David May Stein.

The same policy goes for small amounts of alcohol.

The district has seen improvement. They say attendance is up, and in 2017, 126 students were given the maximum suspension under the old policy. Last year, when the changes were implemented that number was cut in half to 61.

Parents we spoke with support the new policy, especially the education component.