(1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(a) Colorado ranks fortieth in the nation in the school nurse-to-student ratio;
(b) The federal center for disease control's healthy people 2020 recommended one school
nurse for every seven hundred fifty general education students, but many school nurses
in Colorado are responsible for as many as six thousand students, making it difficult
to provide the social-emotional support necessary to students and staff;
(c) In 2011, prior to the legalization of retail marijuana, almost forty percent of
students surveyed reported having tried marijuana one or more times, with nine percent
reporting that they had tried marijuana before age thirteen;
(d) In addition, twenty-two percent of students reported using marijuana one or more
times in the last thirty days, with six percent reporting that they had used marijuana
on school property one or more times;
(e) The legalization of retail marijuana is anticipated to increase the availability
of marijuana to underage youth;
(f) Marijuana use by minors can have immediate and lasting health implications, and
many youth who engage in substance abuse develop or have underlying behavioral health
(g) School health professionals have already started to experience the results of
marijuana as a newly legalized substance in increased visits to the health office
and referrals from school staff; and
(h) School health professionals are in a unique position to educate, assess, and treat
youth who have substance abuse or behavioral health issues.
(2) The general assembly further finds and declares that a program to provide matching
grants to education providers to enhance the presence of school health professionals
in schools throughout the state will facilitate better screening, education, and referral
care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.
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