Surrey student says anti-pot T-shirt got him and two others hauled into office

SURREY — High school student Connor Fesenmaier says he’s unsure why school administrators at Surrey’s Princess Margaret secondary asked him to consider removing the anti-pot T-shirt he wore to classes on Monday, given the anti-drug message the school preaches.

The 18-year-old, his twin brother Duncan and a friend wore shirts featuring a crossed-out marijuana leaf to promote their opposition to the legalization and overall use of pot. The teens are involved in Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada, a non-profit group focused on the science of marijuana use, he explained.

Fesenmaier said they were individually pulled into the vice-principal’s office as soon as they entered the school Monday morning.

Each was told to consider removing or covering up the shirts because the message could be confusing to the younger students, said Fesenmaier.

“I completely disagree with that,” Fesenmaier told the Province

“I have not had a single person misinterpret it yet. Either someone is giving me a hate stare, because they are against me supporting (the anti-legalization movement) or they pat me on the back. I’ve never seen anyone not know that the anti-symbol is.”

Fesenmaier said all three declined the request, at which point they were allowed to leave and return to classes unpunished.

Doug Strachan, spokesman for the Surrey School District, described the conversation with the students as “mature.”

“The fundamental principle is that there was no ban,” Strachan said.

“It certainly appears with the amount of media calls and some distribution of statement that the shirts were banned, that there certainly was a desire to get media attention for something.”

Fesenmaier has been involved with the anti-pot movement for several years. He said he’s particularly troubled by the “whole medical marijuana aspect” of the debate, as it creates the “illusion” that pot is a medicine, not an illegal drug.

He plans on protesting next week’s so-called annual 4/20 “smoke out” at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“It’s only damaged the whole outlook on how kids look at marijuana,” he said. “They tend to use it and say ‘Hey man, it’s only medicine, what’s the worst it can do?’

“And that is a terrible thing for a kid to be confused with.”

The teen said he remains confused by the school’s request.

“I see kids walking around the school with marijuana paraphernalia,” he said

“Shirts with marijuana leaves on them, backpacks with marijuana leaves on them, cellphone cases with marijuana leaves on them.

“And I’ve never seen those kids have their items confiscated or asked to remove or replace them with something else.”

colivier@theprovince.com

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