The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Marijuana Bill Impacts Students, Community

Washington State passed Bill 5536 and RCW 69.50 recently, enacting that no person under 21 can manufacture, distribute or possess cannabis. RCW 69.50 includes the consequences of committing such a crime: arrest.  

School Resource Officer Sergeant Kevin Karuzas shares his knowledge of the bill, including an officer’s perspective and why students should be aware of the law. The Puyallup Police Department is also impacted by the law, as more arrests are arising with the law.  

“[Possession of marijuana is] a gross misdemeanor. It means additional bookings and people that can be put in our local Puyallup jail,” Karuzas said.  

Kauzas shares why he believes avoiding marijuana as an adolescent is important.  

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“It’s important to stay away from drugs. Especially marijuana; if your brain’s not fully developed it can impact the way your brain develops in the future, your learning, sleep—it can have long term health effects as you’re developing as an adult,” Karuzas said. “That’s the main reason I feel that kids need to stay away from marijuana.”  

Another concern Karuzas shared was the dangers of obtaining marijuana and the uncertainty that tracks that.   

“You don’t know where you got [marijuana] from. It could be potentially laced with another drug or chemical and I’ve witnessed overdoses when people, not just kids but adults, who smoke marijuana that is laced with something and overdose,” Karuzas said.  

Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist Julianne Buffelen is at the school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and select Fridays. Buffelen expresses how students can receive help if they are struggling with marijuana usage.   

“Anyone, adults or teenagers, who is caught on campus with marijuana can be arrested for it. I know Emerald Ridge and Walker are under the Pierce County Sheriff Department and they are arresting [students] for having marijuana on campus,” Buffelen said. “Puyallup High School is under the Puyallup Police Department and they will also arrest kids who have quantities of [marijuana] with the intent to sell.” 

Buffelen emphasizes that students who intend to sell marijuana will face arrest.  

“Students who are caught on campus with a THC pen, cartridge, any form of marijuana, can be arrested. In some cases, especially when there is the intent to sell, they will be arrested,” Buffelen said.  

Buffelen believes when students see the consequences of violating this bill, they will begin to understand what smoking marijuana at school means.  

“[Students] are just learning about the laws. I think if kids see somebody taken out in handcuffs, they will absolutely decrease the use [of marijuana] at school,” Buffelen said.  

Buffelen emphasizes that students should have a plan on what to say when faced with the epidemic of peer pressure.  

“You should plan ahead of time on how to handle [peer pressure],” Buffelen said. “It’s been proven that if you have a plan ahead of time on how to handle the situation, you are much more likely to get out of it successfully than if somebody offers you something and you don’t know what to say.” 

Buffelen emphasizes that she is a good resource for students to reach out to if they need help or are struggling with peer pressure regarding drugs and alcohol.   

“[Students] can come talk to me, they can talk to school counselors, the nurse or nurse assistant or they can talk to administration. They won’t get in trouble, they will just probably get referred to me,” Buffelen said.  

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About the Contributor
Katelyn Ervin, News and Features Editor
Senior Katelyn Ervin, News and Features Editor, is taking this course to make your voice heard. Ervin enjoys writing feature and news stories because of the interesting elements of feature stories and the priority of keeping you informed in news stories. She can often be found with her nose in a book, crocheting or studying.

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