Drug use on the rise among teens in Park City, officials say

Posted at 10:06 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 10:28:54-04

PARK CITY, Utah -- It's the harsh reality of drug use among students in Park City and it has parents and teachers worried.

Tuesday night dozens turned out for a discussion at Treasure Mountain Junior High School looking at the spike in marijuana use among kids.

School officials say they've not only seen a spike in usage at and during school among the 12- to 15-year-olds, but that the kids are more open and accepting of the drugs, specifically marijuana.

“I think what surprised me is their perception of marijuana has changed since I was in high school,” said Robert Kunz.

Robert Kunz unexpectedly had to have the discussion of the dangers of drugs with his 15-year-old son who is an honor roll student and athlete at Treasure Mountain Junior High.

“Their perception is marijuana isn't bad or me it's actually good for me because it's medicine and can be used in many beneficial ways,” Kunz said.

As neighboring states legalize marijuana and the discussion around legalizing medical marijuana in Utah circulates the internet, the topic around the drug is less taboo.

Kunz said kids are interpreting it the wrong way.

“They're not reading the research correctly and they're not understanding how much damage it's doing to them mentally and physically,” Kunz said.

Kunz brought this concern to the Park City School District. It's a problem educators see firsthand.

“They're bringing substances to school, paraphernalia to school, they're leaving school grounds to use during the day,” said Amy Jenkins, assistant principal Treasure Mountain Junior High.

That's why the district decided to have a community meeting. Dozens of parents, teachers and students talked about the growing trend of marijuana use, the damages it can cause to young teens and what parents can do to help educate children.

“What I’m surprised with is how wide spread it is. It's not a boy girl, problem it's not a demographic problem, it's not a social economic problem. It's everyone's problem,” Jenkins said.

Parents are grateful the school is opening the door of communication.

“I think the most important thing is to open the education and what it’s doing to students,” Kunz said.

Park city school district says this isn't just here that it's a problem but it’s at schools all across the state and the lesson to bring home is talk to your kids.