D51 parents quiet on pot pamphlets

District 51 School Board members say they haven’t heard much response to the 8,568 anti-marijuana pamphlets — provided by a group sponsored by the Church of Scientology — that they mailed to parents last month.

Board Vice President Leslie Kiesler said two people thanked her profusely for giving them information they wanted but did not know where to find. Another person left her an angry voicemail. She did not return the call.

“I’m not going to call someone who swears on my answering machine,” Kiesler said.

Board member Jeff Leany said he received a single phone call on the issue from a military veteran who uses marijuana and felt the school board should stay away from the issue of marijuana use. Overall, though, he said he feels positive about the mass mailing.

“Most people have stopped me and thanked me,” he said.

Leany asked his fellow board members to consider sending the 24-page pamphlet, titled “The Truth About Marijuana,” to parents of every middle school and high school student in the school district.

The pamphlet was written and provided free of charge by the Los Angeles-based Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Mailing the pamphlets on Nov. 14 cost the board $753.78.

“I saw the pamphlets and read through them and said, ‘This is what we need,’ ” Leany said.

Board President Greg Mikolai said board members agreed unanimously to put out the pamphlet because they were concerned about increased marijuana usage among Grand Valley teens.

Drug-related expulsions decreased from 57 in 2010–11 to 55 in 2011–12 in the district, but local high schools have experienced an increase in marijuana-related violations and suspensions in recent years.

Mikolai said he wanted to address the issue proactively before suspensions accelerate any more and inform students and families “this isn’t like smoking a cigarette.”

Mikolai, Leany and Kiesler said they did not mind when informed by a reporter that the Foundation for a Drug-Free World is sponsored by the Church of Scientology (board members Ann Tisue and Harry Butler did not return calls for comment Monday).

The staunchly anti-drug church is not mentioned in the pamphlet.

What is mentioned are nicknames for marijuana, a comparison of alcohol to marijuana, statistics about drug use and warnings about potential short-term and long-term effects of marijuana.

“The (district) administration said they checked out the information and it’s factual,” Mikolai said.

“It may have come from the Church of Scientology, but if the Church of Scientology said two plus two equals four, it’s still correct. It’s the same thing with the pamphlet. We don’t want to paint the message with the messenger.”

“The facts are the facts,” Kiesler said. “It could have been printed by Mickey Mouse for all I care as long as the facts are correct.”


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