Seattle students report getting pot from dispensaries

SEATTLE -- Marijuana use among Seattle's high-school students is holding steady, and more than a third of students who use the drug say they got it from a medical marijuana dispensary, according to results from a Seattle Public Schools survey released Tuesday.

The state-funded Healthy Youth Survey is taken every two years by middle and high-school students. High-school students also take the federally-funded Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

"These survey results provide valuable data to help us identify and monitor factors that affect our students' well-being," said Lisa Sharp, Seattle Public Schools student health networking program supervisor. "We then use this data to implement appropriate programs to support the health and safety of our students."

While alcohol and cigarette use among Seattle public high-school students has declined during the past four years, marijuana use has not changed, according to the survey. Results show 23 percent of high-school students used pot in the past month, and 39 percent of users got the drug came from a medical marijuana dispensary.

Sharp said minors can get marijuana authorizations under Washington law, though she does not know whether students with prescriptions are sharing the drug with their friends.

"No matter what the laws are, we need to work as a district to educate our kids on marijuana and its effects," Sharp said. "A lot of families in our communities are confused on the law and what it means."

Seattle Public Schools currently offers students access to drug treatment services, provides classroom education on drugs and alcohol, and has substance abuse counselors in schools.

In other results that could be concerning for parents, the survey shows 29 percent of high-school students said they'd had sexual intercourse in their lifetime, and only 61 percent of those students reported using a condom the last time they had sex. But, that's up slightly from 2010 survey results.

"Do I wish that number was higher?" Sharp asked. "Of course. We as a school district are working towards that. It's something that I watch very closely, but it is a comparable number with the rest of the nation."

Seattle Public Schools currently teach comprehensive sexuality education to all students beginning in fifth grade. Teen health centers provide reproductive information and condoms to all 13 high schools and some alternative and middle schools.

The district reported positive changes in students' physical activity. The percentage of eighth graders who engaged in 60 minutes or more of physical activity five or more days per week increased from 34 percent in 2008 to 49 percent in 2012.

Television watching also declined among both middle and high-school students. In 2012, 25 percent of eighth graders said they watched three or more hours of TV on an average school day; in 2006, that number was 37 percent. The rate of TV viewing among high-school students dropped from 28 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2012.

Rates of being bullied in the past month also declined among sixth-grade students from 26 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2012.

"Most kids are making healthy choices," Sharp said. "Most kids don't use drugs, drink alcohol or are sexually active. And, we want to make sure we continue to support healthy choices."