With Nearly 40 Drug Offenses So Far This School Year, Riverton High Principal Pleads For THC Ban

Saying there have been at least two overdoses at the school and 39 drug offenses, Riverton High School Principal John Griffith is urging city leaders to ban THC products in city limits.

CM
Clair McFarland

March 23, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Saying there have been at least two overdoses at the school, Riverton High School’s principal is urging city leaders to ban THC products in town limits.   

Under a 2018 federal law known as the Farm Bill, retailers can legally sell some low-grade THC products if they contain less than 0.3% of delta-9 THC – an intoxicant.   

Wyoming is going to set its minimum age to buy Delta 9 products at 18 beginning July 1 under newly passed House Bill 108.   

Another bill aiming to set the age at 21 but including the delta-8 THC, or less psychoactive levels in the prohibition, failed in a legislative committee meeting in February.   

But many manufactures package and flavor the drugs in ways that are attractive to kids.   

“It’s not only an ‘us’ thing, it’s kind of an everywhere thing,” John Griffith, Riverton High School principal, told the Riverton City Council during its Tuesday meeting

Griffith said “a couple” kids at the school have overdosed and at least four school-age minors have overdosed throughout Fremont County on various popular drugs. At least six minors in Cody have overdosed on THC products. 

“I’m hoping to get your help and support in making them not legal in our city, at least,” Griffith said.   

Startling Numbers 

Last year, Riverton High Schools saw 12 drug offenses. So far this school year, they’ve handled 39, Griffith told the council.   

“There’s been a lot of years where we don’t even hit double digits,” he said. “The fact that we’ve had 39 and we’re not even to spring break is pretty scary (in) numbers.”   

The school spent $24,000 to install vape sensors in the bathrooms, which cut its tobacco infractions down by two-thirds from last year to this year, while drug offenses continue to climb, said Griffith.   

Riverton Middle School spent between $14,000 and $18,000 on vape sensors, Griffith added.   

He said it’s a shame to spend money on security that could be spent on education.   

Hide It In Our Lockers  

Griffith said when school officials catch kids with Delta 8, which refers to products containing less than 0.3% of Delta 9, the substance tests “hot” on drug-testing kits.   

Students who are also on criminal probation programs are testing positive for Delta 9 Griffith said.   

“Nobody has a clue what’s going in it,” said Griffith.   

“We’re going to buy some of this, hide it in our lockers and see if the (police department’s) drug dogs will actually hit on it,” said Griffith. “Because in theory they really shouldn’t, but again, I have no reason to believe that’s actually 0.3 % THC. It’s more likely much higher.”   

Another culprit drug, kratom, is what Griffith called a “natural herb” used to divert patients away from traditional painkillers.   

“Kratom is not regulated and again, the long-term effects and whatever they’re putting in there – we really have no idea,” said Griffith.   

Griffith said about 80 of “our kids” walk to a nearby gas station over the lunch hour that sells kratom products. He said he didn’t believe the drugs were in the local stores until recent months.    

Slippery Slope  

Mike Bailey, a Riverton City Council member who owns multiple convenience stores in the city, said his staffers are already “extremely careful” not to sell THC products to people younger than 21.   

“When you take a legal substance it’s tricky to regulate it,” said Bailey, adding that if the products are harmful “we’re not going to have them.”  

“But if you took every substance that wasn’t good for us out of Walmart, you’d have a great big, empty store,” he said. “Where do you stop?”

Riverton Mayor Tim Hancock thanked Griffith for his presentation.  

Council members asked Griffith to create a proposed ordinance to bring back to the council.  

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Authors

CM

Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter