Kieran King, a Canadian 10th-grader, did some research and discovered that marijuana is not as bad as his government makes it out to be. When he shared this information with his friends at the Wawota Parkland School in Saskatchewan, King says, the school's principal, Susan Wilson, accused him of selling pot and threatened to call the cops. Outraged at the principal's intimidation, King organized a student walkout to protest what he saw as a violation of his right to free speech. Wilson responded by locking down the school and suspending the 15-year-old for three days, which will force him to miss his final exams. Not your average pothead, King says he's never seen marijuana, let alone smoked or sold it. "The main purpose [of the protest] wasn't cannabis," he told the Regina Leader-Post. "It was the defense of the freedom of speech. I believe we have a right to freedom of expression."
With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to issue a ruling soon on the question of whether a high school student has the right to raise a banner declaring "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at a school-approved, off-campus rally, it's possible that punishing students for controversial drug-related speech like King's will receive judicial approval in this country. The school district's position in the "Bong Hits" case went beyond the argument that principals may restrict student speech when it disrupts learning. The government argued that the banner was contrary to the school's educational mission, which includes anti-drug indoctrination. It does not seem like much of a stretch to claim that sharing accurate information about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol with one's fellow students, as King did, is likewise at odds with the educational mission, even if it is not at all disruptive in the usual sense. And as Justice Samuel Alito noted during oral arguments, a school's educational mission can be defined broadly enough to squelch dissenting views on almost any subject.