Juneau district, parents tolerate ‘stoner’ teacher

Juneau district, parents tolerate ‘stoner’ teacher

(Alaska) A fifth grade teacher in Alaska, who publicly admitted last week to smoking pot for medical purposes, has surprisingly seen more support than opposition from parents for his stance as voters here contemplate a ballot measure to legalize recreational use of the drug.

The teacher, Adam Berkey, took to the Juneau Empire’s public opinion column to rebut an opposing editorial, which took a hard stance against marijuana usage and the negative effects it can have on judgment, work ethic, mood and brain development.

“Besides being a fairly successful school teacher, loving son to my father and a dutiful husband to my wife; besides being a tax-paying, election voting, community-volunteering member of Juneau — I am also a ‘stoner,’” Berkey wrote in support of the measure.

Berkey explained that while he has a medical marijuana card to help deal with symptoms of epilepsy, he nonetheless also supports Drug Abuse Resistance Education – the landmark  1980s anti-drug program that suggests teens “just say no” to drugs.

Perhaps because of the line he apparently draws between acceptable activities of adults versus children, Berkey has endured little blowback from school administrators.

So far he has been found to be in compliance with the Juneau School District’s policies for a drug- and alcohol-free workplace. His employers appear to have taken the position that what Berkey does in his free time is up to him.

Still there are some critics, including some who question his ability to carefully grade homework papers after hours if also under the influence.

“I did not want to join the debate on legalizing marijuana in Alaska,” he wrote in his column. “By joining this debate, I am forced to leave the closet I’ve hidden in for a long time.”

Alaska’s Measure 2 would legalize the use of marijuana for those 21 and older and would create a marijuana control board as well as a tax on the drug at $50 per ounce wholesale. Voters in Oregon and the District of Columbia will also consider recreational use measures on the November ballot.

The Oregon proposal would also apply to adults over 21 and would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate marijuana as it does alcohol. Initiative 71 in the District of Columbia would repeal all criminal and civil penalties for personal possession of marijuana and allow limited, private cultivation of marijuana plants for people 21 and older.

Alaska is currently one of 18 states where marijuana possession has been decriminalized, and 23 where medical use of the drug is legal. Recreational use is only prohibited in Washington and Colorado.

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