by: Tom Regan Updated:
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Beginning this season, high school football players and other athletes in Hall County high schools with be subject to random testing for synthetic marijuana. It is the first school system in Georgia to undertake screening for the dangerous designer drug.
"Our lab folks have told us we can add this to our panel of tests, so we're happy about that," said Hall County Schools spokesman Gordon Higgins.
Since 2004, athletes and student drivers in Hall County high schools have been subject to random drug tests. School officials decided to add screening for synthetic pot after it was outlawed by Georgia following a Channel 2 Action News investigation. The medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has attributed synthetic pot to two deaths in the state.
"Anything we can do that will help make parents make sure their students are making good choices, then I'm all for that," said Flowery Branch High School Principal Dr. Mark Coleman.
Athletes who test positive for drugs can be suspended from games and practices. Channel 2's Tom Regan spoke with a senior linebacker for Flowery Branch High School about testing for synthetic pot.
"I think it's a good idea, because it gives players an incentive not to do it, because they will have consequences if they get caught," said player Gabriel Takacs.
Cost of the drug testing is funded by gate and concession receipts from games.
"As head football coach, I want the best for our players and to give them every opportunity to succeed and make good choices," said coach Chris Griffin.
Hall County school officials say last year, only two students tested positive in drug screenings out of a pool of 1,200 students. No athlete tested positive according to school officials.