After legalization, marijuana easier to come by than water, say high schoolers

marijuana leaf_thb

by Colin Cortbus

An explicit student-produced online documentary depicts a rampant culture of illicit drug taking by students at a top Portland public school, just months after recreational marijuana legalization came into effect in mid-2015. The filmmaker says Oregon should not have legalized Marijuana without implementing a comprehensive strategy to protect minors from the drug.

The film, called “Weed Documentary 2016 – High School” appeared online earlier this month. It suggests an escalating problem with illicit student drug use at the public Cleveland High School in Southeast Portland, where the film’s producer, student Ben Grayzel, graduated in 2015.

In footage shot in January 2016, health teacher Jeff Zerba says “I think it is rampant, I think everybody uses it”. High schoolers in the film are seen consuming the drug, and express similar sentiments about the prevalence of drugs at the public school. In footage shot in a park close to the school in October 2015, one senior says “It’s so easy for us to get weed, to the point where it is like easier than getting water. I’ve had mornings where I smoke weed before I have even ate anything”.

An 8th grader who is in the company of Cleveland High students says “I’m fourteen, I started smoking when I was maybe twelve… I’m getting high pretty much every day”.

The film also raises concerns about increasing numbers of students abusing prescription medication like Xanax recreationally.

When Oregon debated the legalization of weed in 2014, campaigners from the Pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, a non-partisan group back financially by well-known left-winger George Soros, said that the move would be the best way to protect minors from the drug. “People often confuse prohibition with control…We have an opportunity to create a responsible industry”, Dr. Amanda Reiman, an academic at the ultra-liberal UC Berkeley and policy official for the campaign group, told The Oregonian back then.

Half a year after legalization came into effect, comments by Cleveland High’s teacher Jeff Zerba, however, paint a very different, much bleaker picture regarding the extent to which access to drugs at schools has been responsibly controlled. In the film, he says, “This is me, I don’t think we do enough, it seems like we talk about it in a staff meeting and then it goes away or we bring in somebody who talks to the staff and then it is done with for a year or two.”

Zerba suggests greater efforts are needed to tackle the problem at the school head on, but then seems to suggest school officials may be reluctant or incompetent to do so, commenting “And I don’t know if that’s a publicity thing, that Portland Public Schools or Cleveland – don’t take this out of context – but maybe they just don’t want that to get to the press, maybe they don’t know how to do it, maybe they are trying and I am just not seeing it, I don’t know.”

Neither Cleveland High School’s Principal, nor teacher Jeff Zerba responded to requests by Oregon Catalyst for comment. Jon Isaacs, the head of communications for Portland Public Schools, told us that they coordinate on a daily basis with the police to limit student access to drugs. He outlined a number of measures that have been taken at Cleveland High School since films about drug abuse at the school first appeared in 2015, including educating teachers about intervention protocols, liaising with parents, and facilitating drug treatment services. He also said that “most” students featured in an earlier film made by Ben Grayzel in 2015 about drug abuse at Cleveland High are no longer attending the school.

Jenni Knaus, an administrative specialist at the Oregon Department for Education, said that while drug use in schools is always concerning “The video provided was not something we were familiar with at the Department, and given the circumstances surrounding the documentary-style video it is hard to generalize one student and one teacher’s comments to represent an entire school or school district”. Asked whether the legalization of recreational marijuana had contributed to illicit drug issues at Oregon schools, Knaus responded vaguely “It is too early to address these questions as the situation is still developing and data is not yet available”.

The producer of the high school marijuana film, Ben Grayzel, a Cleveland High graduate who is now a student at Quest University in West-Coast Canada, struck a cautionary note about legalization. Speaking to Oregon Catalyst, he warned “I think that it was entirely irresponsible of the state of Oregon to legalize without implementing some sort of drug education program for adolescents. In making this film I was surprised by the lack of knowledge most of these kids had about the development effects of habitual marijuana use”.

Grayzel said there was a need to move away from outdated, failing drug-education efforts and introduce a “more comprehensive drug education program in all public schools”. Research emphasizes that adolescent marijuana use can have seriously negative effects on educational achievement, mental health, can lead to later life drug dependence, and is linked to an increased risk of dropping out of school.

“Right now” Grayzel says, “there’s a whole generation of kids who are constantly stoned without really seeing it as a problem. I worry that we will regret not doing more to address the issue of adolescent use in this time of change and legalization”.

If we don’t stop seeing teenage drug use through the radical left’s rose-tinted spectacles, is there a risk that a whole generation of Oregon high schoolers is being left behind?

Colin Cortbus is a freelance journalist – his investigative work has appeared in the UK Daily Mirror, the UK Daily Star, the Berliner Kurier and Channel 7 (Israel).

Colin Cortbus

Colin Cortbus

  • Brian Kelly

    If I were this author and worried so much about “saving all of us” adults from ourselves, under the guise of protecting “The Children”, well then, I’d begin with the deadliest drug, which causes more broken homes, domestic violence, and traffic fatalities than all other drugs, combined, which is alcohol.

    Yet alcohol remains perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised, even glorified as an All American pastime.

    Why doesn’t the much more prevalent, more widely abused, use of alcohol concern you much more than marijuana which is a relatively benign drug when compared to all other ones?

    Protesting the legality of booze should be your number one priority if you are truly so concerned about “saving us all” from ourselves.

    • Brian Kelly

      If prohibitionists really want to protect families from a drug proven to destroy lives and families, then they should be up in arms, protesting the legality of booze.

      Alcohol is the number one cause for traffic fatalities and domestic violence by a huge landslide.

      Alcohol is also infused into literally a ton of deserts and fruity drinks that “The Children” find appealing.

      Why doesn’t the much more harmful yet perfectly legal use of alcohol concern you prohibitionists more than relatively benign marijuana? It should.

      Regarding “The Children”,

      Let’s not use “The Children” as an excuse to prohibit and criminalize adult use of a natural plant far less dangerous than perfectly legal alcohol because nobody condones child use, and this is about allowing adults only to choose marijuana.

      It’s our responsibility as parents by to educate our children on drug use. It’s not the government’s job to force Draconian Marijuana Laws upon every adult citizen under the guise of protecting “The Children”.

      What message are we sending our children when it is easier for them to obtain marijuana now with it being illegal than it is for them to buy alcohol?

      It doesn’t take the intellect of a genius to understand that stores card kids for I.D. Thugs and gang members do not. They also push the real hard drugs on children. Stores do not.

      Marijuana legalization will make it harder for children to obtain it.

      What message does it send our children when the President of The United States himself alongside a long list of successful people openly admit regular pot use at one time or another in their lives?

      While we tell our kids how it will ruin their futures, and then ensure so, by allowing our government to to jail our children and give them permanent criminal records when they get caught with a little Marijuana. Especially, if they are the wrong skin color or from the “wrong neighborhood”. Which in turn, ruins their chances of employment for life.

      The Prohibition of Marijuana is the wrong message to send our children while we glorify, advertise and promote the much more dangerous use of alcohol like it’s an all American pastime.

      The worst thing about marijuana and our children is what happens to them when they get caught up in the criminal justice system due to it’s prohibition.

      Protect “The Children” and Our Neighborhoods Through The Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Nationwide!

      • Brian Kelly

        Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

        Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

        The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

        If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

        Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

        Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

        • Brian Kelly

          There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

          The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

          Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

          Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

          With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

          Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

          Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

          • Brian Kelly

            The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

            Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

            The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

            Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

            Even The President of the United States has consumed marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

            The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

            Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

            Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Brian Kelly

            In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

            In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

            Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

            People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

            Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

            Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

            Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

            To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

            There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

            So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

            We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

            Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

            Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

            Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Brian Kelly

            A long list of successful people have admitted to partaking in marijuana in their lives, including:


            “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”

            OPRAH WINFREY

            “To kick things off, [television show host Andy Cohen] asked the last time Winfrey had smoked marijuana. ‘Uh … 1982,’ Winfrey replied. ‘Let’s hang out after the show,’ Cohen joked. ‘Okay,’ Winfrey laughed. ‘I hear it’s gotten better.'”

            (Source: Bravo)


            “I experimented with marijuana a time or two.”

            (Source: YouTube)


            “The White House said today that Judge Clarence Thomas, President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, had smoked marijuana while in college.”

            (Source: New York Times)


            “First, [in high school], I smoked a lot of pot…and that’s how I got to know the people ‘half in’ the society of my high school and we waved at each other over the bong. Then I got to know people by making jokes.”

            (Source: San Francisco Chronicle Interview (January 2006))

            JON STEWART

            “Do you know how many movies I wrote when I was high?”

            JOHN KERRY

            “Yes.” [In response to the question: “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?”]

            (Source: On The Issues)

            GEORGE SOROS

            “He said he had tried marijuana, enjoyed it, ‘but it did not become a habit and I have not tasted it in many years.'”

            (Source: Reuters, 2/6/97)

            BILL MAHER

            “Look, I have never made a secret of the fact that I have tried marijuana… About 50,000 times.”

            (Source: YouTube)

            BILL GATES

            “As for drugs – well, Gates was certainly not unusual there. Marijuana was the pharmaceutical of choice…”

            (Source: Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry–and Made Himself the Richest Man in America)


            “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”

            (Source: New York Times)

            GOV. ANDREW CUOMO

            “I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth.”

            (Source: New York Daily News)

            SEN. RAND PAUL

            (Source: GQ Magazine)

            SANJAY GUPTA

            “I have tried it.”

            (Source: CNN)

            GEORGE CLOONEY

            “The owner of a local cannabis café told reporters George Clooney was no stranger there.”

            (Source: The Weed Blog)


            ”You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.”

            (Source: New York Times)

            The list goes on and on.

          • Brian Kelly

            “Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”


            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

            Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

            Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”


            “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”


    • Granola girl

      So we already have issues with alcohol as you pointed out, and we are finding out that weed is becoming an issue also. Did you know that weed stunts the mental growth of adolescents? Weed utilizes the same senses as alcohol. Therefore if you are prone to be an alcoholic, you are extremely sensitive to any other mood altering drug.
      Weed is easier to conceal and use without bring much attention to yourself. My daughter goes to Tigard, and as this article points out, its very prevalent there also. She said it’s sad to see kids come into class stoned as they are not learning anything, and all the kids know who the stoners are.

      • DavidAppell

        Granola girl wrote:
        “Did you know that weed stunts the mental growth of adolescents?”

        Where is that evidence?

        “Weed utilizes the same senses as alcohol.”

        Utilizes? What is that supposed to mean… the substances in these drugs act by very different means in the human body.

        Wanna compare DUIs to driving while high?

        • Granola girl

          David, if you did your own research you will find numerous articles regarding teens and how pot affects them. Here’s one for you, you can simply Google it, you obviously have much more time than I do. As far as DUIs you KNOW there is not a reliable test to prove if someone is under the influence of pot. Don’t be stupid trying to compare them. Just wait, I’m sure something will be created to check THC levels, then we will have something to compare …

          • DavidAppell

            Your own link says:

            “…teens who engage in heavy marijuana use often show disadvantages in neurocognitive performance, macrostructural and microstructural brain development, and alterations in brain functioning.”


      • joe tokes

        We know who those stoners are, so shouldn’t we hurt them real bad? Get um girl!

  • Dave Lister

    There was no difficulty getting weed at Cleveland High School in 1969 to 1972 either.

    • Eric Blair

      Nor at Parkrose High School from 1973-76

    • Noah Cannabis Abide

      Cleveland High celebrates 100th anniversary this year. Most older alumni quite sad to see the school go up in smoke and younger generics so accepting “Brain Dead 420” as an elective providing nil credit save for appearing as little d’oh sheeple marshmallow cadre sponge blobs. .

      • Dave Lister

        Well, I can’t quite follow your last sentence, but plenty of successful people smoked pot at Cleveland, and Commerce before it, and plenty of places since, and are not brain dead.

        But your anonymous diatribe (why don’t you say who you are?) pretty much shows that you have managed to become brain dead, with or without the influence of cannabis.

        And don’t give me your high and mighty crap about being older than my generation, class of ’72. Before that you were a bunch of greasers or jocks, getting blotto on beer and going out and racing your cars on the public streets. My people smoked pot and rode bicycles. Which was the greater danger to public safety? You guys used to think it was cool to meet up and rumble with chains and brass knuckles, we liked to sit in circles, listen to music and folk dance.

        Then you fifties guys say you were tough and we were wimps, but you guys did your service in peacetime Germany or Japan, and my generation did theirs in Vietnam.

        And then finally, tough guy, you post anonymously. You are a coward.

        • Nickel Nick

          Then so was Mike Crabtree you dithering wasted soul.

        • Shingle Sashay Pappas

          David Lidster, now a circle jerker in weed repartee abong with Sho Dunnos , evil Dungho Potter and all dem other PIL clevelauded demweeds tokin’ the time to celebrate Potland creep stinking up, regional and state governmentium.

          • Dave Lister

            Another anonymous profile in courage.

          • DL, of Mayor qual nyet

            Riches Philbin Knight observes your plight as mutton boar a faux pas cause you ain’t so maudlin half bright as your seniors having have served US faithfully without savoring the MJ whore, d’oh boy!

        • VP Gray Shoen D’light

          You took a stand, now squat on it.
          Too bad, so sad, formerly thinking D. Lister as perhaps mayor material, now realize his mutton “Band Box” sheeple-stablishment resurrected from across the street – and, Sean Penn jackass their dopey dealer unAmericus..

    • redbean

      Nor was it difficult to acquire in the shadow of the nation’s capitol, circa ’73. As a wide-eyed newbie, I witnessed our vice-prinicpal calling in the stoners from lunch break by hollering “ollie ollie oxen free” across a ravine to the partakers’ “spirit circle.” Heck, kids were dropping acid on the school bus. For my better half in Dixie, the bullpen was the place to be: before school, at lunch, any time, really.

      No penalties whatsoever at school then, despite being highly illegal for adults. Yet most of us grew out of it and thrived because compared to today, there were decent jobs aplenty, especially for the young bucks. Independence was a great motivator to discipline one’s vices.

  • Uguester Chester

    We’ve all so become to wasted. Pogo Possum was ripe about us.

  • DavidAppell

    This article presented zero evidence that legalization has altered the use of pot by these high school students. Zero.

  • joe tokes

    Oh god Oh god the children have no parents!! They will die from pot