School district opposes cannabis in Morgan Hill

Board approves resolution at March 17 meeting

El Toro Elementary School Principal Darren McDonald speaks in support of the district’s resolution opposing the cannabis industry within Morgan Hill city limits at a March 17 school board meeting. Jackson Academy of Math & Music Principal Patrick Buchser stands with him and other administrators.

While city leaders continue to contemplate whether to become a player in the legal cannabis market, Morgan Hill school officials made their hard stance known opposing any city venture into the controversial industry.

At a March 17 meeting, Morgan Hill Unified School District’s Board of Education stood in solidarity with district leadership in unanimously approving a resolution opposed to any retail, cultivation, distribution or testing of cannabis within city limits.

“I think we really have to weigh what’s best for our students to succeed, so we’re urging the city of Morgan Hill to not accept any business aspects of the cannabis industry within our city limits,” said MHUSD Board President Mary Patterson. “Limiting the access to cannabis near our students is very important.”

Patrick Buchser, principal at Jackson Academy of Math & Music, was one of several administrators within the Morgan Hill Educational Leaders Association to voice opposition to cannabis with the “mixed messages” it would send to students.

“There is not one campus in our district where students would not be affected negatively by the conflicting messages they receive from businesses and what they’re being told by the school system,” said Buchser, the MHELA president.

A copy of the school district’s resolution was sent to the Morgan Hill City Manager’s office after the board ratified it.

In November 2016, statewide voters approved Proposition 64 to legalize the recreational use of cannabis among adults. However, local municipalities are allowed to decide how much of the new cannabis industry, if any, are permissible within their jurisdictions.

It has been a hotly debated topic among Morgan Hill’s City Council, which is weighing the benefits of permitting cannabis sales and/or cultivation such as new tax revenue.

In response to the city’s consideration of local ordinances related to the cannabis industry per state law, the MHUSD Executive Cabinet—headed by Superintendent Steve Betando—conducted research on the adverse effects of marijuana on various aspects of academic achievement, according to staff.

“Sources show that marijuana use may have a negative impact on post-secondary educational outcomes, educational attainment, IQ level, mental health and more,” the staff report states.

Following staff recommendation, the school board concluded that the cannabis industry is “detrimental to our youth” and unanimously passed a resolution opposing “the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, testing and retail sale of commercial cannabis per California state law.”

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