Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Marijuana
Mon, 7 Jun 1999 18:59:01 -0400
Ted Burton had some excellent insight intot he problem of marijuana
use within a troop and what to do about it. Here's my comments on
what he had to say, because I think he has said it best so far:
>.....One of the boys and his parents are telling a story somewhat
different from another.
First, figure out the truth. You can't respond until YOU know
EXACTLY what is happening.
>There will be differences of opinion whether these boys should or
>should not be permitted to continue with the Troop.
IMHO, Scouts is EXACTLY where they belong, and the troop's
responsse to this could be a turning point in their lives.
>First, whatever else, if your troop decides the boys can stay
>around, you must make it clear to the boys
>that they are not welcome to participate further in the Troop unless
>they promise unconditionally to stop any use of marijuana and/or
I agree with this. It's a no-brainer.
>Explain that breaking that promise will mean immediate expulsion,
>and likely involvement of the Police.
How about SUSPENSION, rather than expulsion? Once again, I
think a carefully structured program to include them in troop
activities, and making it clear to them that what they did is
unacceptable may help clear up the problem. I WOULD NOT involve
th epolice except as a totally last resort.
>(The promise may or may not mean anything, but it paves the way
>for quick and final action if the promise is broken.)
Don't make a promise YOU'RE not going to keep.
>You should also explain to them that in that they have been
>untrustworthy, their packs and bags are subject to inspection. They
>need to understand that they are earning back your respect for
>their behavior, they are not entitled to it currently.
Hmmmm, OK, but be prepared to search bags of Scouts who may
be stealing, or bringing other contraband such as dirty magazines,
etc. Consistency is as important as making pormises.
>Second, and this requires cooperation of the families, the boys
>should have counseling respecting the use of controlled substances
>and alcohol from a counselor whom youth in your community
Good idea, but in my experience, most "programs" don't do much
good. One on one may be useful, but I believe most pot smoking is
experimental in nature and not a sign of worse things going on that
need ot be dealt with. One Scout I worked with admitted smoking pot
to his parents (whom he beieves suspected anyway), but htey had
him write a carefully researched (not 2 hours on the internet) paper
on marijuana, the good and the bad. He was convinced. And it was
dealt with within the family where it should have been.
>Third, a law has been broken in the jurisdiction of possession, and
>in the jurisdiction of use. You do not have the duty to report the
>breach of the law, but you may wish to do so, especially if the local
>juvenile authorities enjoy a reputation of being respected by youth,
>and of dealing with the problem in an intelligent fashion. Your DE
>can be especially useful in this aspect.
Once again, keep the kid out of the system. Even juvenile records,
allegedly expunged at 18 years of age, have a nasty habit of turning
up later on when you least expect it. Also, the court system is
unpredictable. What if the judge is having a bad day? I'd like to say
it doesn't happen, but it does, and some poor kid gets the book
thrown at him for a relatively inconsequential thing (and I'm NOT
saying marijuana use is necessarily inconsequential).
>Fourth, if your troop has not had training in use of controlled
>substances, it is needed; a refresher course may well be needed.
>While this use is news to you, if it really happened on a troop
>outing, virtually every boy then present knew about it.
I don't think "virtually every boy" knew about it, unless they were
sitting around the campfire in front of them. Certainly their friends
did, and maybe a few others, but to accuse all the boys is unfair.
Training in substance abuse avoidance is a good idea in any case.
Find a local narc officer and have him bring a local inmate to talk to
the Scouts about the slide to jail - a lot of times that 's all you'll need.
>Fifth, make sure other Scout leaders are aware of your problem,
>for it will not be unique to your troop, and as you were caught
>flatfooted, so may they be. Roundtable training in dealing with this
>problem may be called for.
Just don'r use names. Discretion is called for, and by showing rh
Scouts in question you respect them even when they screw up,
YOU gain a lot in their eyes.
>Sixth, the boys are 'entitled' to some detriment, by reason of
>breaking the Scout law and Oath. They are obviously not going to
>have your approval for any OA election. They are not going to be
>eligible for Troop office. If they already hold it, they are removed
Yep, another no-brainer. They can earn the right to do these things
just like they re-earn the trust to not be searched when necessary.
I hope fewer and fewer Scouters have to go thru this. Good luck!
Scoutmaster, Troop 891
Bon Air UMC
Robert E. Lee Council, Richmond, VA