More Wellesley High School students have been caught with marijuana this school year than in years past, according to the Wellesley Police.
“We’ve seen an increase in students who have marijuana in their possession,” said Lieutenant Marie Cleary. “It’s not clear if that’s because of an increase in marijuana use or because of students being more open in their discussion of marijuana use.”
Cleary said that so far this school year, police have been called six times to the high school because a student was found to have marijuana on their person. Each student was issued a town bylaw violation, she said, for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana. An officer spoke with each student’s parents, she said, and students under 18 were required to complete a drug awareness program.
The police do not track marijuana calls at the high school year to year, said Cleary, so do not have statistics on the number of calls that came in last year, but said this year there have been more instances.
Since marijuana was decriminalized, said Cleary, police have noticed that young people are more open about their use of marijuana.
“We have certainly seen a lot more young people openly driving around in cars – and when I say young people, it could be college-aged or people who are in their early to mid-20s, or things of that nature – they are under the impression that since it’s decriminalized under one ounce that they can smoke it freely in their vehicle or anywhere else they want to,” she said.
Wellesley has a by-law that prohibits the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, said Cleary, so whether someone is driving or walking down the street, it is a violation of the by-law to possess or smoke marijuana. Driving while smoking marijuana, she said, can impair a driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, so it is possible that someone smoking while driving could be operating while impaired.
Police are actively involved in all the schools in Wellesley speaking to students about drug and substance abuse, she said.
Last week, she said, the high school held an assembly where substance abuse was discussed.
Superintendent David Lussier could not immediately be reached for comment.
School Committee Chair Diane Campbell said that the uptick in marijuana citations at the high school has been brought to the attention of the School Committee, and it is something that the administration is dealing with. It has not come up for public discussion before the school committee, she said.
Cleary said that police have not recently increased the number of substance abuse awareness programs they offer at the high school.
“If we find that there is more of a need for that,” she said, “I’m certain that the door is open to have a discussion with the superintendent.”
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org