Legalized marijuana presents risks for Las Vegas Valley's youth - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Legalized marijuana presents risks for Las Vegas Valley's youth

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With legalized marijuana's availability waiting in the wings in Nevada, anti-marijuana advocates in Colorado observe the risky outcomes exhibited in the state's youth.  (FOX5) With legalized marijuana's availability waiting in the wings in Nevada, anti-marijuana advocates in Colorado observe the risky outcomes exhibited in the state's youth. (FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

"When it passed, I don't think the voters knew what they were voting for," Harrison Chamberlain, a high school senior, said about legal pot. Chamberlain lives in Golden, CO, a city just outside of Denver. 

"I see kids come high to class all the time," Chamberlain claimed.

Unlike most of his classmates, he does not support marijuana.

"I was the captain of my football team this year. I was just able to watch kids. You just see the change."

Chamberlain said pot on campus is everywhere, adding Las Vegas classrooms will likely see the same issues. 

"I see kids put [vape pens] in their sleeves and take hits when the teacher's not looking," according to Chamberlain.

Chamberlain's claims about pot on school campuses isn't unfounded. A group called The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area looked at this and found school expulsions for marijuana have nearly doubled since legalization.

"Kids are losing full-ride scholarships and money because of pot. And you'll see this in your state, too," said Lynn Riemer, a former DEA forensics chemist.

She runs a nonprofit called Act on Drugs, which teach kids at Colorado schools about drugs.

"Marijuana in elementary schools was never heard of. Now it is," she said. 

Riemer believes nothing good has come from marijuana legalization. While the pot industry is booming, she says children are paying the price. 

"In one situation, a kid brought his parents' pot plants to school for show and tell," Riemer recalled. "Another, a kid brought edibles and was passing them out."

While pot at school may alarm Valley parents, the ramifications of legal weed may reach beyond the classroom.

Colorado is seeing a 150-percent spike in children being exposed to marijuana, according to the Journal of American Pediatrics. Of those, 20 percent had to be hospitalized and 15 percent had to be placed in intensive care. The study also found toddlers were most at risk. 

"Someone brings in a lethargic child and they don't want to tell you what happened," Harriet Hamilton, a registered nurse and deputy coroner, hypothesized. "You're like 'well what could they have possibly eaten?' And they don't want to tell you."

"I voted for recreational marijuana!" Hamilton said. "I had no idea it would have this impact."

Hamilton worries for Las Vegas, because she said her jobs bring her face to face with the realities of legalized marijuana.

"As a deputy coroner, I've had several deaths that we have attributed to marijuana," Hamilton said, retelling a man committing suicide by eating edible marijuana treats.

"I had a young man who shot himself because he became psychotic. Another one, someone ate an edible and she didn't speak English, didn't know it had THC in it, and had a heart attack."

"Did marijuana play a role?" she asks. "We don't know." 

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