Fake Pot Gets Middle School Students Suspended

Julie Ryan Evans
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spaghettiThere are a lot of reasons students get suspended from school -- guns, drugs, violence, and now ... oregano. That's right, a bag full of the spice that makes your spaghetti taste so nice got four Virginia middle school students booted.

It started as a joke -- a boy told his younger brother to take it to school in a baggie, that it would be funny. So he did, and along the way, it was passed among students before teachers busted them.

Sure, at first the two substances may appear similar, but once the school learned it wasn't pot, they surely backed down with a lesser punishment, right? Wrong. According to an article in the Virginian-Pilot, the school district has a zero tolerance policy against "imitation controlled substances" and four students who came in contact with the bag were suspended and may be expelled. Talk about a buzz kill.

First off, the fact that they even have a policy against imitation controlled substances is a bit strange -- are that many kids really busting out the fake drugs? Is this a trend I missed somehow? But second, it was OREGANO.

The war on drugs is a virtuous one, no doubt, but it sounds like some in Virginia are a little too trigger happy. It was oregano, for goodness sake, and now these four boys are going to have drug charges on their permanent records, perhaps marring college and job prospects in the future. For oregano.

One of the boys -- oh so ironically named Adam Grass -- only had the baggie in his possession for about 30 seconds, when someone asked him to pass it back to his original owner. His father is justifiably frustrated and told the paper:

I know times have changed, and you can't do [just] anything in schools anymore. But I think there needs to be a certain amount of common sense applied to their policies.

Yes, it sounds like common sense is exactly what's needed in this situation. Zero tolerance just doesn't make sense when you're dealing with human beings sometimes.

No, drugs aren't funny, and passing around something that looks like one wasn't smart, but suspension and expulsion are a gross overreaction to the offense. It seems the school should have more pressing issues than to tie up the disciplinary process like this.

Do you think these students should have been suspended and possibly expelled for bringing a bag of oregano to school?


Image via jshj/Flickr

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