Marijuana listed as banned substance in Alexandria City Public Schools

Marijuana (photo via Wesley Gibbs/Unsplash)

(Updated at 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 12) Alexandria City Public Schools has aligned with Virginia law in its stance against marijuana.

Students who possess, use or distribute marijuana within 1,000 feet of an ACPS school, bus stop or bus can now be expelled, according to policy revisions reviewed last week by the School Board. Marijuana was not previously listed as a banned substance.

The Board did not comment on the revisions, but received a brief staff presentation. The policy is now aligned with Virginia law.

According to the ACPS policy revisions on alcohol and other drugs in schools:

No person may manufacture, sell or distribute or possess with intent to sell, give or distribute alcohol, or any controlled substance, or imitation controlled substance, or marijuana while:

  • On the property, including building or grounds, of any ACPS school
  • On public property or any property open to public use within 1,000 feet of the property, including building or grounds, of any ACPS school; On any school bus; or
  • At any designated school bus stop or any public property or any property open to public use within 1,000 feet of such school bus stop during the time when students are waiting to be picked up and transported to or are being dropped off from school or a school sponsored activity.

Matt Smith, an ACPS policy consultant, briefed the Board on the changes, and said that they relate more to adults and not children. Smith said that marijuana was not previously listed as a conrolled substance.

“When marijuana was a controlled substance, it did not need to be listed separately but was included in the term ‘controlled substances’ in our policies,” Smith said. “Because the state of Virginia now no longer considers marijuana a controlled substance, then the policy revisions propose to list this separately to continue the ACPS prohibition. Our practices have not changed with respect to marijuana.”

Marijuana possession was legalized for adults in Virginia in 2021.

“As you know, the treatment of marijuana outside of the school system community has changed,” Smith told the Board. “It is no longer illegal. That required explicit warning in our language not as relates to students, but as it relates to adults that that’s a prohibited substance, just like alcohol regulations that is already there relating to students. There’s no change for students here, but this is adults because it’s now treated more like alcohol than it was a prohibited substance. That was a change relating to adults.”

The ACPS policy change also states that any students who is determined to have brought alcohol or marijuana onto ACPS property “may be expelled.”

A. Expulsion

A student who is determined to have brought alcohol, a controlled substance, or imitation controlled substance, or marijuana onto school property or to a school-sponsored activity may be expelled in accordance with Policy JGD/JGE: Student Suspension/ Expulsion.

The Superintendent may determine, based on the facts of the particular case, that special circumstances exist and no disciplinary action or another form of discipline is appropriate. In addition, the School Board authorizes the Superintendent or designee to conduct a preliminary review of such cases to determine whether a disciplinary action other than expulsion is appropriate. Any such disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with Title 22.1, Chapter 14, Article 3 of the Code of Virginia. Recommendations for expulsion will be communicated to the School Board.

B. Prevention and Intervention

Any student who violates this policy must participate in the prevention and intervention activities identified in Regulation JFCF/JFCI-R – Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Abuse Regulation. ACPS may require any student who has been found to have been in possession of, or under the influence of, drugs or alcohol on a school bus, on school property, or at a school sponsored activity in violation of ACPS policies, to undergo evaluation for drug or alcohol abuse, or both, and, if recommended by the evaluator and with the consent of the student’s parent, to participate in a treatment program.

ACPS also has substance abuse counselors and substance abuse prevention resources for students.

Photo via Wesley Gibbs/Unsplash