Oklahoma Public School Plans to Increase Random Drug Tests for Students

Edmond Superintendent Bret Towne says the shift in drug testing policy and the state’s passage of a medical marijuana measure aren’t related.
Oklahoma Public School Plans to Increase Random Drug Tests for Students

On June 26, Oklahoma voters said yes to State Question 788, a ballot initiative legalizing medical cannabis. Unlike measures in other states, Oklahoma’s medical marijuana measure does not set a list of qualifying conditions. Patients simply need a recommendation from their physician.

Pro-cannabis advocacy groups praised Oklahoma’s more accessible approach as a victory for patients. But opposition to the measure, while in the minority, has been vocal.

Critics of legal medical cannabis say SQ 788’s lack of a list of qualifying conditions will make the drug too easy to obtain. And one Oklahoma public school plans to increase random drug tests for students to address this concern.

Are More Random Drug Tests for Students Just a Coincidence?

Edmond Public Schools announced yesterday that they will double the number of students they randomly drug test.

But Edmond Superintendent Bret Towne insists the change of school policy has nothing to do with the passage of SQ 788.

He says the plan to increase the number of random drug tests administered to students only coincidentally aligns with the state’s legalization of medical cannabis.

Towne did acknowledge his and parents’ concerns about the increased availability of cannabis on school campuses. “We always worry about students having easier access to it,” Towne told Oklahoma’s News 4.

Edmond Public Schools have been randomly drug testing students for the past six years. And it’s almost entirely students who participate in extracurricular activities who take the tests.

Drug tests, however, are expensive. And recent strikes by Oklahoma public school teachers have laid bare the serious financial shortfalls facing the state’s schools.

In fact, Towne said that budget cutbacks forced them to reduce the number of random drug tests administered to students two years ago. This week, however, the school board decided to return testing to previous levels.

Now, Edmond Public Schools will test as many students as the law allows. And that means more than 700 of the 3,000 students who participate in extracurricular activities will take drug tests this year.

How Will Schools Handle SQ 788’s Allowances For Minors?

Oklahoma’s recently approved medical marijuana provision permits anyone 18 years of age or older to use the drug with a doctor’s recommendation. That includes high school seniors who are of age.

Furthermore, SQ 788 permits minors aged 16-17 to use medical cannabis with recommendations from two doctors.

So far, however, it’s unclear how schools plan to handle students with medical cannabis.

Currently, Edmond schools lock up prescription drugs, and the school secretary dispenses them. But Superintendent Towne admitted that he did not know whether the same would be the case with medical marijuana.

The Oklahoma Department of Health has yet to release its medical cannabis rules.

DOH will release application information for patients on July 26, and begin accepting applications by August 25.

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