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DPSCD Superintendent talks one-on-one with 7 News Detroit after marijuana, vape issue in schools

Posted at 5:40 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 19:00:41-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Detroit Public Schools Community District says they are facing an alarming number of marijuana edibles and vapes coming into their school buildings.

In a letter to state legislators, federal congressional leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office, Superintendent Nikolia Vitti asked for help to remedy the issue.

FULL INTERVIEW: Nikolai Vitti on student marijuana use

Vitti says as of last week, the district has faced 745 drug-related infractions among students this school year. He says the issue ramped up following the pandemic and has multiplied from 2021 to 2023 sixfold.

"What is happening in our schools specifically is children and teenagers take the edible for the first time or take more than they’ve taken before and go into shock. They have hallucinations, they’re sweating, they’re screaming. They may attack an adult or other children," Vitti described.

Vitti says the issue has even resulted in several students being sent to the hospital and disruptions in the classroom. The district says it’s time for state lawmakers to intervene.

"We can only search so many bags. We can only talk to our kids during the school day so many times," Vitti said. "It’s gotten to the point that we can’t fix this on our own."

The district is now asking for the following:

  • Lawmakers to require clearer labels on THC products
  • Public awareness campaigns listing the dangers of using cannabis before consumers are of legal age
  • Funding for technology that can detect the marijuana products in backpacks or being used in bathrooms
  • Parents and community members properly securing THC products at home

Vitti also says it's important for parents to begin discussing drug use with their children at younger ages.
"We were and still are very supportive of the legalization of marijuana when you think about the detrimental and disproportionate impact it had on Black and brown communities in particular, you know, from a criminalization point of view and even a violence in the community point of view. But this is certainly one of those unintended consequences of positive legislation," Vitti said.

"Whether we want to do it or not, we have to talk to our youngest children, unfortunately, now before it’s too late about marijuana. And that conversation should be balanced about the history of marijuana in the country, why it led to legislation, but the reality is it’s now legal and it’s more accessible."

7 News Detroit reached out to several lawmakers who represent Detroit. While no one was available immediately for an interview, the city of Detroit says they are currently reviewing the letter and any applicable laws, however, they say it appears most issues would fall outside of the city's authority.

7 News Detroit also reached out to the governor's office, but we were referred to the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency.

A representative for the CRA says strict labeling standards have been and will continue to be a high priority. They went on to say any product that doesn't follow the rules is likely illicit and should be reported to law enforcement. The state law is as follows:

A producer of edible marihuana product may not:

(a) Produce an edible marihuana product in a shape or with a label that would appeal to minors aged 17 years or younger.

(b) Produce an edible marihuana product that is associated with or has cartoons, caricatures, toys, designs, shapes, labels, or packaging that would appeal to minors.

(c) Package edible marihuana products in a package that can be easily confused with a commercially available food product. The use of the word candy or candies on the packaging or labeling is prohibited.

(d) Produce edible marihuana products in the distinct shape of a human, animal, or fruit, or a shape that bears the likeness or contains characteristics of a realistic or fictional human, animal, or fruit, including artistic, caricature, or cartoon renderings. Edible marihuana products that are geometric shapes and fruit flavored are permissible.

(10) An edible marihuana product must be in opaque, child-resistant packages or containers that meet the effectiveness specifications outlined in 16 CFR 1700.15. An edible marihuana product containing more than 1 serving must be in a resealable package or container that meets the effectiveness specifications outlined in 16 CFR 1700.15.