A new study by the American Public Health Association has found that suspending students for smoking pot does not deter marijuana use. In fact, suspensions for cannabis use were found to make children “more likely to reuse marijuana,” and students attending schools with suspension policies for illegal drugs were 1.6 times more likely to use pot than those at schools without a disciplinary approach.
“That was surprising to us,” said the report’s co-author Richard Catalano, professor of social work and co-founder of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. “It means that suspensions are certainly not having a deterrent effect. It’s just the opposite.”
On the other side of the spectrum, the study found schools that delivered abstinence messages and had counseling policies saw a 50 percent decrease in marijuana use among students. However, other approaches, such as expulsion or calling the police on drug users, had no significant impact.
Data for the report was collected by surveying more than 3,200 student in the 7th and 9th grades from Washington State and Australia to compare the impact of different drug policies. Washington schools are more likely to suspend students for drug use, while Australian schools favor counseling.
The study concluded by recommending that schools adopt “a remedial approach to violations rather than use of suspensions.”