Principal’s presentation on drugs at high school

If you missed the presentation on March 12th 2015, here are the slides Dr Yannacone showed. You can also download the Powerpoint file. Referenced URLs are below the images.

Websites referenced:

Dr Yannacone provided handouts of the following

  1. Casual marijuana use linked to brain abnormalities
  2. How cannabis causes paranoia
  3. Deadly High: How synthetic drugs are killing kids
  4. Family strategies for prevention of adolescent drug use
  5. WSSD Policy 227

Principal Yannacone expressed concern over students’ perception that THC use has low risk (while nationally, teens DO perceive pot as risky). E.g., Teens understand that “drinking and driving” is dangerous, but somehow they think THC does not affect their decision-making ability. [FYI from Colin: according to DrugFacts, “12% of high school seniors admit to driving while stoned”; THC impairs driving ability but, strangely, drivers don’t perceive this impairment like they do for alcohol.] They also don’t view it as addictive, or detrimental to brain function. The legalization of pot in some states is making it increasingly hard to convince students otherwise. Aside from the actual risks of marijuana, regular usage of pot can lead to “trying” heroin in a casual setting among friends … so it’s gateway drug. Heroin is especially cheap and available in Philadelphia, and some schools in the area are having a huge problem with addiction. Detective Irey said that 4 former students have overdosed on heroin (1 died).

[FYI from Colin: States that have legalized marijuana for recreational use prohibit the use by anyone under 21 years of age. Many kids seem to not know this. Also, kids probably view part of pot’s low risk as “low risk of getting caught” … because if they ingest rather than smoke it, the smell won’t give them away. Also, parties at the high school might user breathalyzer (for measuring alcohol) but there’s no cheap gizmo that can be used to deter pot use. Finally, it might be good for parents and the school to completely stop using the phrases “drunk driving” and “driving while drunk” (e.g.) … and instead say “drugged driving” and “driving while drugged” … which are more inclusive.]

Detective Irey discussed the challenges of identifying candies and baked goods that contain THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). If you’re curious, here’s a Google image search for “THC candy”. Students used to smoking pot sometimes overdose on such candy because it’s slow-release relative to inhaling the drug … so they end up overeating the drug because the effect doesn’t hit them instantly. He recommended a National Geographic program for those interested in knowing more about heroin [from Colin: I think this is it].

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Principal Yannacone ( Assistant Principal Kristopher Brown ( and ’11-’12 Dean Thomas McLaughlin ( were also in attendance and welcome questions from parents. Finally, Detective Irey can be reached at


About Colin Purrington

evolutionary biologist, photographer
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