Teachers Union President raises alarm over increased marijuana use in schools

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Teachers have become increasingly concerned about their observation that the use of marijuana in schools has increased.

During his State of the Union address at this year’s Annual General Conference, on Thursday, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (ABUT) Ashworth Azille said that he voiced his fears about the possible negative impacts on education following the government’s move to decriminalize up to 15 grams of the substance.

He alluded to his disappointment with the silence on the growing issue in the nation’s educational institutions.

“Last year, I referenced the need to exercise caution as it related to the newly implemented law to decriminalize the use marijuana. There seems that there has been widespread miseducation about that law, but the silence is so deafening.

“Despite what we are seeing as a negative emerging trend, we are hearing nothing as it relates to the proper public education concerning it.”

Educators erupted in laughter as Azille described the growing curiosity of students wanting to experiment with the substance. He warned, however, that it is no laughing matter.

“Many of our students are now eager to have a little thing in their mouth and they will boldly tell you ‘well the Worl’ Boss has passed the law’. You laugh, but it is frightening, because more and more students are coming to school not being able to function unless they take a draw.”

Azille highlighted the need for parents and other authorities to be aware of a new role that has been placed on teachers as a result of the presence of marijuana in schools.

“We are seeing children who are bringing this substance, sometimes in large amounts on our school premises and so our teachers and principals must now become police officers conducting searches in order to capture these things.”

Azille claimed that in 2018, he attempted to hand over the then illegal substance to the police but they referred him to lawmakers, as they too were just beginning to navigate the emerging trend.

“I attempted to hand over to them a collection of paraphernalia of green, leafy substance and they refused to take it. They said ‘well you better take that and show the Ministry. Take that and show the policymakers.’ They too are overwhelmed.”

The ABUT President cried out for serious efforts from the country’s policymakers to educate the public on the use of marijuana and the laws pertaining to it to prevent its misuse, especially among minors.

“Sometimes we implement laws which we believe at the time are good but unless we engage in proper education about those laws, there are those who will continue to flout the law,” he said.

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