More Questions & Answers - Detention for a Bag of Dirt

More Questions & Answers - Detention for a Bag of Dirt
By: Tony Hensley
Sikeston, Missouri - Police and school leaders in Sikeston say the case involving a 6-year-old girl and a bag of dirt needs to be taken seriously.
"If she would have been 14, we would have been arrested her and taken her to jail.” Sgt. Shirley Porter said.
It's a story you saw only on Heartland News. One that generated an incredible response from you. More than a 1,000 of you logged onto our web site to voice your opinion on the Sikeston first grade student disciplined for giving a bag of dirt and grass to a classmate.
Police and school leaders felt it looked like a bag of marijuana. The girl's mother tells Heartland News that her child did not realize the difference between a bag of weed and the illegal kind. But, passing even a fake drug is illegal and had the child been older, she could have been arrested.
This really is a tough situation for school leaders because they cannot talk to us about disciplinary action against any student. But, with Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller's support, Sikeston police can talk to us about how important it is to handle any drug issue seriously no matter how old the student or how real the threat.
"It's important that a student understands what a drug is.” Sgt. Shirley Porter said.
It may sound simple but Student Resource Officer Sgt. Shirley Porter says it's a problem that continues to rear its ugly head. During her 16 years as a student resource officer she continues to be amazed at how drug problems make it onto school grounds. No matter how old the students are.
Sgt. Porter says, "They are smarter than you think, we don't give them never as much credit as we need give them because they are really smart individuals."
And that's why Sgt. Porter says she talks to kids in high school all the way down to kindergarten about drug awareness and Porter says parents too need to reinforce the warning. “Education starts at home. As parents they need to teach your child about drugs. Teach them about everyday things of life. So, you can know what level they are on as far as their knowledge and we are going to back it up at school with facts and figures. Some with personal experiences and thing's like that."

Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller agrees. Speaking by phone with Heartland News, Borgsmiller says officers absolutely should address drug awareness to children of all ages. Sgt. Shirley Porter was even involved in last Tuesday's questioning of 6-year-old Michaela Boyd.

Sgt. Porter says, "If she had been a 14 year old we would have arrested her taken her to jail and she would have to meet with juvenile authorities. She would have been suspended from school for anywhere between 90 to 180 days. That's how serious it is."

Sgt. Porter also tells Heartland News, that parents need to remember that kids are curious and don't often don't think about consequences. Extended Web Coverage

Marijuana Facts
  • Very few Americans had even heard about marijuana when it was first federally prohibited in 1937. Today, between 95 and 100 million Americans admit to having tried it.
  •  According to government-funded researchers, high school seniors consistently report that marijuana is easily available, despite decades of a nationwide drug war. With little variation, every year about 85% consider marijuana “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain.  Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more U.S. high school students currently smoke marijuana, which is completely unregulated, than smoke cigarettes, which are sold by regulated businesses.
  •  There have been over seven million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1993, including 755,186 arrests in 2003—an all-time record. One person is arrested for marijuana every 42 seconds. About 88% of all marijuana arrests are for possession—not manufacture or distribution. 
  • Every comprehensive, objective government commission that has examined the marijuana phenomenon throughout the past 100 years has recommended that adults should not be criminalized for using marijuana.
  • Cultivation of even one marijuana plant is a federal felony.
  • Lengthy mandatory minimum sentences apply to myriad offenses. For example, a person must serve a five-year mandatory minimum sentence if federally convicted of cultivating 100 marijuana plants—including seedlings or bug-infested, sickly plants. This is longer than the average sentences for auto theft and manslaughter!
  • A one-year minimum prison sentence is mandated for “distributing” or “manufacturing” controlled substances within 1,000 feet of any school, university, or playground. Most areas in a city fall within these “drug-free zones.” An adult who lives three blocks from a university is subject to a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for selling an ounce of marijuana to another adult—or even growing one marijuana plant in his or her basement.
  • Approximately 77,000 marijuana offenders are in prison or jail right now.

Source:  Marijuana Policy Project