Officials: 10 students sickened at San Francisco middle school ate cannabis

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SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The substance that sickened ten students at a San Francisco middle school Tuesday is suspected to be cannabis, according to the San Francisco Unified School District.

The James Lick Middle School students’ symptoms were consistent with marijuana intoxication and a container labeled “medical cannabis” was confiscated, the school district said in a statement Wednesday.

At this time, it appears that all students are recovering.

It all began with one student who went to the school’s office saying that they were ill after ingesting something.

San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Jonathan Baxter said authorities received a 911 call at 1:20 p.m. from the school saying that students were experiencing “the effects of an ingested substance.”

Soon, the one ill student expanded to ten students who were sick.

Fire officials say seven had minor symptoms, two had moderate symptoms and one was experiencing severe symptoms.

Police and firefighters sent emergency vehicles and footage showed children being wheeled away on a stretcher.

Here is the school’s statement:

In light of yesterday’s incident at James Lick Middle School, in which 10 students became ill after consuming cannabis, the San Francisco Unified School District is sharing more information about reported marijuana use among students and its approach to educating students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Though data for this school year is not yet available, marijuana use does not appear to be a widespread problem among San Francisco students. Over the past 10 years, the number of middle school students who say they have ever used marijuana has dropped from 7.7% to 3.9%. Additionally, the number of SFUSD high school students who say they have ever tried marijuana is 25.6%, much lower than the national average, and less than in 2015. (Source: Youth Risk Behavior Survey)

The SFUSD has been educating students about drugs, alcohol and addiction for decades and in 1991 the district introduced a Comprehensive Health Education policy mandating health education instruction for K-12 students.

Teachers provide students with standards-based health education curriculum to address alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, including marijuana, in addition to clarifying what they say about the legality of marijuana for adults. Recreational use for marijuana is legally available to adults as of January 2018, but is still illegal for people under 21. Bringing and consuming any drug, whether legal for those 21 and older — such as alcohol or marijuana — or illegal, is against school and district rules.

In anticipation of marijuana legalization going into effect, the district reviewed its drug education materials and reminded all staff who teach drug education to reinforce important information.

Here are some ways the SFUSD educates students about drug use:

All SFUSD comprehensive high schools and many middle schools have Wellness Centers, which offer counseling and support for students around drug use. Additionally, school social workers and nurses also provide Brief Intervention counseling. This consists of two to three one-on-one sessions that focus on why students are using drugs or alcohol. It supports students to set goals and make healthier, more informed choices relating to drug or alcohol use.

In addition to adult educators, SFUSD’s Wellness Centers select and train students to be Youth Outreach Workers.

These youth educators provide peer-to-peer teaching and outreach, make classroom presentations, and develop public service announcements that address issues like substance abuse.

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