Riverton High School principal John Griffith approached the Riverton City Council this week asking for help with an increase in drug offenses among local youth.
RHS recorded 12 drug offenses during the 2021-2022 school year, Griffith said – more than usual – but more than three times that number (39) have already been recorded this school year, “and we’re not even to spring break.”
“(It’s) pretty scary numbers,” Griffith told the council during a regular meeting Tuesday.
Of the 39 drug offenses recorded during this school year, Griffith said only one involved “traditional” cannabis, or Delta-9 THC.
“The other 38 have been some sort of vape or oil or something like that,” he said. “(And) one of the big issues we have is with Delta-8 THC.”
Delta-8 THC is “basically the same (as) Delta-9,” Griffin said, but it’s “far less potent … in theory.”
“The problem is … no one regulates it,” Griffith said. “Because it’s not regulated, we have no idea what actually is going (into) those products.”
Some of the products are marketed to children, Griffith added, pointing to advertisements for Delta-8 gummies and other sweet treats at local stores.
Kratom is “another one” that’s been a problem at RHS, Griffith said.
“We’ve had a couple overdoses at the high school that … could be kratom, (and) I know there’s been four overdoses in our county, talking with other principals, that are directly related to kratom,” Griffith said.
Kratom isn’t regulated either, he said, so officials have “no idea” what the “long-term effects” might be – but it is available for purchase at local convenience stores.
“(It’s) at their fingertips,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Fentanyl is also a “huge problem,” Griffith said, and although “we have not found it in our school, we’ve found it on our property” – and some students on probation have tested positive for fentanyl in urinalyses.
Griffith said the “fear” is that teenagers are using vape pens – which are “easy to pop open (and) add whatever you want” – to ingest fentanyl, kratom, Delta-8 THC and other substances.
“That is what we’re kind of running into,” Griffith said. “So really what we’re kind of looking for is some way to hopefully eliminate it – if you guys could pass some sort of a city ordinance just to get it out of the city (so) at least they can’t get it here.”
He recommended using language from House Bill 137, which would have prohibited the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products to anyone under age 21 in the state but failed to pass the Wyoming Legislature this year.
“I’m not really sure how that happened,” Griffith said. “I was 99 percent sure they were going to pass that bill, but they did not, (so) we’re kind of stuck with the situation we’re in now. …
“We’re hoping that we can do something (with the) city council to address that so it’s not such a big fight and such a danger for our kids.”
Councilmember Kristy Salisbury thanked Griffith for bringing the issue to the city’s attention, expressing interest in pursuing the matter.
“When you know it’s a problem, if there’s a way to protect our kids a little bit … we could look it over and see if there’s some things (we can do),” she said.