Many school districts throughout the U.S. have instituted tobacco-free policies because they recognize “the use of tobacco products is a health, safety, and environmental hazard for students, employees, parents, visitors, and school facilities.” As the popularity of electronic cigarettes has grown with middle and high school students, school districts that have a tobacco policy are moving forward quickly to include e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine to their policies, if they haven’t already done so. One school district in North Carolina has not only banned e-cigarettes, they will be coded as possession or use (depending on the actual circumstances) of “drug paraphernalia” starting February 2, 2015.
Under their school policy, “drug paraphernalia includes pipes, bongs, and any other devices designed or employed to use drugs or other substances.” Using that definition, electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) would seem to fall easily under the drug paraphernalia category. Nicotine itself is considered a “psychoactive drug in that it both stimulates and depresses functions,” but the concern is that students can replace the liquid nicotine with THC oil, hash oil or other illegal substances. Tetrahydrocannabinol or marijuana oil is illegal in most states, but that doesn’t stop students from finding and using it. It can be placed into the devices and smoked almost anywhere with very little smell to give away the user.
Those students in Haywood County, North Carolina violating the policy could face anything from a 10-day suspension to expulsion from school depending on the severity of the offense.