13-year-old caught with pot at school

ASHLAND — A young teenage son of a medical marijuana user was cited for possession of the drug after bringing some of his father's pot to Ashland Middle School.

The 13-year-old boy apparently took the drug from his father's bedroom and stashed it in a friend's locker at the school overnight. It was discovered after a janitor recognized the odor coming from the locker, Deputy Chief Rich Walsh said.

Police cited the boy for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school.

School officials would not comment on the specifics of the case. But Principal Steve Retzlaff said whenever the school's drug and alcohol policy is violated, the student is suspended for the remainder of the day, then placed on 60-day in-school suspension, during which the student has no contact with other students for the first four weeks.

The student's parents, teachers and administrators also meet to decide additional consequences and intervention. The school steers clear of expulsions or out-of-school suspensions to avoid punishing students academically, he said.

Punishments are designed to "help students learn from the mistakes they make while they're testing those boundaries and ... send a clear message to the student body that there will be significant consequences," Retzlaff said.

The school sees few drug incidents on campus, and cases involving just drug paraphernalia and no history of use can be handled without notifying the police, he said.

Police still are investigating to confirm the father had a valid medical marijuana card and to determine if any of the marijuana was sold, Walsh said.

Parents who have medical marijuana rights should exercise caution around their children, Walsh said.

"If you have a gun you should keep it locked up, and if you're going to have what is called legal marijuana you should have it locked up too," he said.

Julie French is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 482-3456 or jfrench@dailytidings.com.

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