Advocates smouldering over boy's pot suspension
Updated Thu. Jun. 21 2007 3:52 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Advocates for a suspended Saskatchewan high school student are demanding a probe into the boy's treatment after his research into the effects of marijuana triggered a storm of controversy and harsh punishment.
New Democrat MP Libby Davies is among those concerned that 15-year-old Kieran King was suspended, forced to miss his final exams, and threatened with police action despite the fact he says he has never used, or even seen, the drug.
In a news release, Davies called for an investigation into Wawota Parkland School Principal Susan Wilson's actions in the case. The MP also said the Grade 10 student's research into cannabis in comparison to alcohol and tobacco is reasonable.
"I respect Kieran's right to debate issues that are important to young people," Davies said.
"There are a lot of academics that agree with Kieran's assessment of the comparative health risks of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. It sounds like he's done his homework."
King became interested in the subject months ago when his class was given a presentation about the dangers of cannabis. Feeling the argument was one-sided, King began researching the subject on his own, came to the conclusion that marijuana was less dangerous than either alcohol or tobacco, and began sharing his findings with other students.
King has said on several occasions that he has never used or even seen marijuana.
One student complained to the school principal, who became concerned that King was advocating the use of drugs. Wilson, the principal, warned she would call the police if King talked about it again, The Globe and Mail reports.
From there, the situation spiralled further. King planned a freedom-of-speech walkout for Tuesday morning with the help of the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party -- an event at which free hemp seed cookies were to be handed out, The Globe reports.
But Wilson got wind of the protest, and students were banned from leaving the school. Kieran and his younger brother Lucas did so anyway, and Wilson then ordered a lockdown, which brought the RCMP racing to the school, where a small group of protesters stood peacefully outside.
Later that day, the school conducted a threat assessment on Kieran with the help of the RCMP and school division counsellors, Kieran's mother Jo Anne Euler told The Globe.
During the assessment, Euler said officials looked at roughly a half dozen occasions during the past year that her son had talked about marijuana. But neither she nor her son had been contacted on any of those occasions.
"Were they documented before or was it a witch hunt after the fact where they said 'Let's try to remember all the times Kieran talked about marijuana?' " she asked.
Euler says the accusations against her son -- there is video of Wilson saying he has been accused of selling drugs -- are false, and she is pushing to have him allowed to write his exams. She said he is a compulsive researcher who tends to delve deep into subjects that interest him, then tell people about his findings.
Tara Lyons, chair of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said in the release that the school had no right to punish King for his actions.
"Mr. King was threatened with police action for voicing an opinion that is well established in fact and science: that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco," Lyons said.
"When he staged a walkout to defend his right to freedom of speech he was suspended, causing him to miss his final exams. Canadians ought to be outraged at the treatment this student has received for voicing an opinion."
Wawota, a town of 600, is located about 2.5 hours east of Regina