Manitou hopes extra tax revenue will reduce pot incidents in schools

. In the first two months of this school year, there have been 14 pot-related incidents at Manitou Springs HS. FOX21 - Kurt Story

Retail marijuana has more people showing up and spending in Manitou Springs. But, it also has more students showing up with pot at the city’s high school.

For the past seven years, Manitou Springs High School averaged a little more than one marijuana incident per month. In the first two months of this school year, they’ve seen 14 incidents.

“The data is staggering,” Dr. Ken Finn, one of the physicians who analyzed this data said.

“When you have historical data going back 7 years and you have a significant spike in the number of marijuana related incidents at a local high school that should get people’s attention to say maybe we do have a problem,” Dr. Finn said.

Dr. Finn is a pain specialist, who sat on the Governor’s taskforce for Amendment 64 and has been active in marijuana regulation ever since.

“The science does show impairment in education, and learning, which is important when a child is trying to learn in that type of [school] environment. So, I think saying to an adolescent or young adult that pot is okay, is the wrong message that we’re sending to these kids,” he said. He said marijuana’s effect on young brains, coupled with the fact that more kids are likely seeing disciplinary action, even suspension, isn’t good for the community.

“The kids are the ones that are going to end up paying the price,” Dr. Finn said.

The City of Manitou Springs has now seen three months in a row — July, August and September — with sales tax surpassing $300,000.

Those numbers are delighting city leaders who’ve struggled to manage a suffering budget after two back-to-back summers of natural disasters. They say there’s no debating the fact that pot is playing a big role in the boost.

“Coming into the fall, we just keep breaking records and they’re knocking it out of the park with recreational marijuana sales,” Randy Hodges, Manitou Springs City Councilman said.

Manitou springs City Council is currently looking at the best ways to spend some of that additional money on marijuana education, not in the schools, but in the community.

“I think we’ve got to educate more the adults than the children. Just like alcohol, you’ve got to be be 21 to buy it. But they’re getting it somehow, so we have set aside $30,000 for community education,” Hodges said.

The school district says the numbers don’t represent a concerning problem at the school. They say it could be an anomaly as incidents have slowed since the beginning of the year.

Doctor Finn says it’s not just Manitou’s concern. With more openness toward marijuana throughout Colorado after Amendment 64 was passed, it’s likely an issue in other districts as well, Manitou just allowed the data to be public.

“I give them a lot of credit for putting the data out there. Not only Manitou Springs’ community, but the Colorado Springs community and other school districts, have the discussion with our children and our young adults that marijuana is not good for them. That’s an important message to get out there,” he said.

In no way is Maggie’s Farm being blamed for the marijuana showing up in schools. Both city leaders and Dr. Finn believe increased openness about pot, and increased access to marijuana is likely causing more teens to get their hands on marijuana, or think it’s okay.

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