A handful of students at Ashland High School hold medical marijuana cards, presenting a challenge to school administrators who must now deal with pot as both an illegal drug and a legal medicine.
School officials are working to create guidelines for teens with medical marijuana cards.
"This is all just kind of starting to happen," Principal Jeff Schlecht said. "It does place us in an awkward position."
Students are prohibited from being high on campus and from bringing pot to school, Principal Jeff Schlecht said.
Administrators say they are unsure how many students hold Oregon medical marijuana cards, because students don't have to notify the school if they have a card.
Schlecht said he knows of fewer than five students with cards at the school, but there are likely more.
"Until it really impacts their academic performance, we typically don't find out," he said.
Cardholders, who must be referred to the program by a physician, are legally allowed to possess an ounce of pot and grow three additional ounces at a time.
Students younger than 18 must have their parent's permission to get a medical marijuana card. Parents must sign a form saying they will "control the acquisition of marijuana and the dosage and frequency of use."
Some cardholders at the high school are younger than 18, Schlecht said. He declined to release more details about the students, to protect their identities.
In order to be referred to the program, patients must be diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition, such as cancer, epilepsy or severe pain.
Several Ashland High School students interviewed by the Daily Tidings said they knew of about half-a-dozen students with cards, and that they imagined there were more they didn't know of.
"I'm sure there are," said senior Wesley Davis, 17. "I've known about this for four years."
Some of the students become cardholders for seemingly legitimate health reasons, but others appear to be trying to "work the system," Wesley said.
"Some of them have it for medical reasons, but others are just trying to get free weed and sell it, turn it around," he said.
The students also said they know some cardholders — and non-cardholding students — who come to school high.
"The teachers don't know," said senior Austin Dykstra, 18. "The students can smell it but it usually doesn't bother them."
If teachers or school administrators notice that a student is under the influence of drugs, they are required to send the student to the office, Schlecht said. If the student is a cardholder, administrators work with the student's parents, physician and teachers to create guidelines.
The goal is to avoid students being high in class, Schlecht said.
"You can't be under the influence and be successful in many high school classes, like biochem or algebra II," he said.
As far as administrators are aware, cardholding students have largely been following school guidelines, he said. So far the school has not seen cardholding students continuing to come to class high and insisting that they must do so for medical reasons.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet," Schlecht said. "Most kids at Ashland high school want to be successful in their classes."
Oregon law is not clear about what rights the school or the student would have in such instances, he said.
"This is really the first year we're dealing with this," he said. "But this is going to be an issue for high schools."
Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.