Community Issues

Pittsburgh Public Schools Lessen Punishment for Pot Possession

Students with small amounts of marijuana can avoid lengthy suspensions, criminal charges.

Students Pittsburgh Public Schools will face lighter consequences for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Tribune-Review reports first-time offenders caught with less than five grams of marijuana could face a suspension of five days, half of the 10-day mandatory suspension under the old policy. In addition to the five-day suspension, students would also have to meet with counselors and attend night or weekend drug treatment courses.

Per the Trib, Students suspended under the old rules "would often be issued alternative placements through the district's Student Achievement Center, which typically removes a student from their home school for at least 45 days."

The new policy is intended to avoid punishments that can be overly harmful to a student's life and career, particularly for non-violent offenses. School officials say they also work to avoid involving the police or the district attorney for students who are caught with small amounts of pot.

"People think that juvenile court is just a slap on the wrist, but there's long-term consequences," such as being excluded from jobs, colleges and the military, said Tiffany Sizemore-Thompson, assistant clinical professor at Duquesne University's Juvenile Defender Clinic, told the Trib.

"A dime bag of weed becomes something that can derail a child's entire academic career."

School officials say the lenient penalties just apply to pot, not opioids or other drugs. Additionally, they do apply to students bringing large quantities of marijuana on to school property.

Be sure to let us know your thoughts on the new policy!

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