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Manhattan Beach Students Smoking Pot

December 22, 1996

* Re "Pot's Deep Roots in Unlikely Ground," Dec. 15:

As secretary of the Mira Costa High School PTSA, I took the minutes for the "soul-searching" November meeting. We were fortunate that day to have our DARE officer come and speak to our group. His talk was followed by about five minutes of questions and suggestions--quite honestly, none of which had to do with marijuana. There may be Mira Costa students who do drugs, but as Principal John Giovati stated, Mira Costa is not the one with the drug problem.

I have had three of my children graduate from Costa and I have a student there now. I have nothing but praise for the administration, faculty and programs at the school and I tell anyone who asks me how fortunate I am that my children have had the opportunity to attend this school. I deplore the black eye you have given our community and especially our high school and all its drug-free students with your article.

SUSAN MOLYNEUX

Manhattan Beach

* Your story about marijuana use in Manhattan Beach should be a wake-up call. As a soon to be retired DEA "narc" who has lived in this beach town since 1970, I have a historical view of the problem. Drug use is cyclical. It's not as widespread now as it was in the '60s and '70s; however, pot is on the increase and more potent now. Law enforcement cannot rid drugs from the schools. The myth that swarthy adults are standing at every schoolyard gate is just that, a myth. The drug dealers are the kids' older siblings and friends. Schools will be free of drugs when the students and their tolerant parents want them to be and not a moment sooner.

Random drug testing with appropriate sanctions is the only real option. Do we care enough about our children to help them reach adulthood drug free? A voluntary program agreed to by both parents and students will at least give the signers a reason to say no and an excuse to say no to drug use. I'm wondering just who will lead in Manhattan Beach and America?

JOHN MARCELLO

Manhattan Beach

* We are two senior girls who will graduate this June in the top third of our class, and we feel that the image you portrayed of Mira Costa students is both biased and untrue.

Your article described extreme cases of drug use and implied that this is the norm for any Mira Costa student. We've been to many Costa parties and the truth of the matter is that there are far fewer students under the influence of marijuana than those who aren't.

Your article also talks about the massive amount of peer pressure supposedly placed on students to smoke pot, reaching down as far as the junior high level. We would like to clarify that peer pressure is virtually nonexistent as far as the use of marijuana is concerned. Students who smoke marijuana do so of their own volition. Quite frankly, nobody particularly cares who is doing it. Students are not looked down upon, ridiculed or excluded from certain social circles simply because they choose not to smoke marijuana. Their friends respect their decision and leave it at that.

While it is true that many students at Mira Costa High School, and all high schools for that matter, choose to smoke marijuana, our concern with the article is your failure to accurately represent the majority of Mira Costa students.

CAYLIN HEANEY

ANNA SARNOFF

Manhattan Beach

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