CO Schools Will Use Pot Funds To Fight Substance Abuse
Credit: kasiat
November 17, 2014

I'd said it before: While I'm not in favor of criminal penalties, you'll never convince me that inhaling 300 active ingredients and heated ashes and fumes A/K/A pot is health food. Lots of useful medicinal uses, but for daily use, over decades? It has to do something. So of course I find it a little bit ironic that Colorado schools will use money from pot sales to fund health workers and substance abuse prevention programs:

After taking applications for about a month from school districts looking to hire health workers with funds from marijuana revenue, the state on Wednesday awarded more than $975,000 of grants.The legislature set aside $2.5 million from marijuana tax revenue for schools to hire more health professionals including nurses, counselors, social workers and psychologists.

Of the 12 applications that were submitted, 11 were funded. To use the rest of the funds, the state opened a second application period, which closed last week.

Officials from some school districts told the state that the turnaround period to submit the grant application was too short.

The Colorado Department of Education, which is overseeing the grants, received an additional 16 applications in the second round.

"We're confident we will get very close to using the funds," said Lynn Jenkins-Nygren, a school nurse and the department's coordinator for the School Health Professional grant. "The second round has a lot of larger districts."

Among the first round of grant winners were online and charter schools, including New America School, Hope Online Learning Academy and the GOAL Academy, as well as smaller districts like the Alamosa School District. Nearby, the St. Vrain School District was awarded a $96,650 grant.

David Rein, director of development at the New America School, said they will use the $169,232 grant to hire three full-time nurses or social workers — one for each campus — to focus on programs to prevent substance abuse.

Counselors at New America surveyed students in September, and results show that 32 percent reported marijuana use of more than 10 times in a month.

"Our student population is over 95 percent at-risk," Rein said. "Given the population, I would say our counselors are overburdened with all these challenges. And if you add on the additional problems of substance abuse, there's a great need for having this kind of additional staff."

In recent years, most schools have seen a decrease in health professionals because of budget constraints, and the ratios of students to available counselors or nurses often are far from the recommended guidelines.

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