A California elementary school has drawn international media attention after three third graders were busted for smoking weed in the boy’s bathroom.
The three boys – two 8-year-olds and a 9-year-old – were caught smoking marijuana from a pipe Feb. 27. The fellow student who spotted them alerted school administrators. They in turn called police in Sonora, where the incident occurred.
Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson said the boys were the youngest he’d ever busted for pot. They were questioned by police and released to their parents, Stinson said.
The boys brought a pipe and a small amount of weed into the bathroom with them, Stinson said – not enough for most people to get high. They seemed to be inexperienced with marijuana and weren’t under the influence when they were confronted.
Stinson wouldn’t say what the boys told him or where the weed originated, other than that “it came from several sources.”
California law usually prevents criminal prosecution of children under the age of 12, so the three boys may not face any charges. They could be treated as delinquents, however, and processed by the juvenile justice system.
“The first step is, we have to determine whether they knew right from wrong,” Stinson said.
School authorities said they had begun making frequent checks in classes to ensure the incident doesn’t happen again. Many parents are demanding the three boys be expelled.
“I’m shocked,” said Linda Rodriguez, a parent. “I think they should be expelled, but I also think (the police) should follow it further to where they found the drugs.”
School Superintendent Leigh Shampain confirmed the incident but declined to comment on the case or on any punitive measures that might be taken against the three students.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, when voters passed the Compassionate Use Act. A movement is afoot to legalize recreational cannabis as well, with advocates pushing to get the issue on the ballot in 2016.
Stinson and Shampain both used the Feb. 27 bust as an opportunity to take shots at weed proponents, saying legalization would make it easier for young children to get their hands on pot.
“It’s something to think about,” Stinson said.