Ever since Justin, a 15-year-old highschool freshman, tried marijuana on his birthday two years in the past, he has smoked nearly each day, a number of occasions a day, he mentioned.

“If I smoke a blunt, after that blunt I’m going to be chill,” he mentioned on a latest morning at a nook deli close to his college, the Bronx Design and Development Academy. “I’m not going to be stressing about nothing in any respect.”

One other boy got here by and flashed two glass tubes of smokable flower. Extra college students have been smoking throughout the road in a doorway and on a stoop. On one other nook, a smoke store frequented by kids in backpacks and uniforms opened about half an hour earlier than the primary bell.

Whereas it has lengthy been frequent for some teenagers to smoke marijuana, lecturers and college students say that extra and youthful college students are smoking all through the day and in school.

There’s little definitive knowledge on marijuana use amongst kids, and what data is obtainable can generally provide a contradictory image. Disciplinary knowledge from the town training division displays a ten % enhance in alcohol- and drug-related offenses this 12 months in comparison with 2019. However a metropolis survey discovered teen hashish use had declined in 2021, the identical 12 months that the state legalized marijuana for leisure use, to the bottom stage recorded because the query was added to the survey in 1997.

Nonetheless, two dozen college students and lecturers at public, personal and constitution faculties throughout the town mentioned in interviews that some lecture rooms have been in disarray as extra pupils confirmed up late and excessive.

They mentioned that with the proliferation of unlicensed smoke outlets and the provision of vape pens and edible merchandise, hashish has by no means been extra accessible and inconspicuous. They relayed accounts of scholars taking hits of vaping pens when lecturers turned their backs, of loos and stairwells changing into smoking lounges and of the scent of weed wafting by way of college hallways.

Lecturers throughout excessive faculties within the metropolis mentioned it was uncommon to catch college students within the act of smoking, given the rising ease, leaving experiences to be made based mostly on extra opaque judgment calls of the scholars’ scent and conduct.

“It actually seems like this unstoppable tide that we’re futilely attempting to suppress,” mentioned America Billy, 44, who has been instructing at a public highschool in Manhattan Seashore, Brooklyn, for over a decade. She mentioned it was onerous to know whether or not a pupil was out of it due to a scarcity of sleep, household stress or medication.

In December, a former principal, April McKoy, described in a letter how college students’ hashish use had spiraled uncontrolled throughout her final two years answerable for Metropolis Polytechnic Excessive Faculty of Engineering, Structure, and Expertise in Brooklyn.

“It felt like increasingly more have been utilizing with out understanding the supply, influence or penalties of early marijuana use,” Ms. McKoy mentioned within the letter, including that college students had returned after the pandemic “unhappy, remoted and looking for methods to manage.”

Freshmen have been promoting hashish to one another, and she or he mentioned she witnessed a smoke store promote edibles to 14-year-olds with law enforcement officials close by. On one other event, she despatched 4 college students to the hospital as a result of they have been sickened from contaminated edibles, she mentioned.

The proliferation of unlicensed smoke outlets, which the town says might quantity as many as 1,500, could possibly be one issue driving marijuana use amongst kids, officers mentioned.

Gale Brewer, a metropolis councilwoman, mentioned that although she had counted fewer than 10 of them in her district on the Higher West Facet of Manhattan in September, there have been 64 by March. A number of college directors have complained to her about retailers promoting joints and infused candies in addition to high-potency concentrates and vapes to college students.

“We have been all saying we want social employees, we want psychologists, we want psychological well being assist within the faculties,” she mentioned. However coping with smoke outlets promoting to kids “was not on the listing.”

Mayor Eric Adams has vowed to crack down on unlicensed smoke outlets, although he has not taken sweeping motion. In February, his administration filed nuisance abatement lawsuits concentrating on a handful of shops the place the police mentioned underage auxiliary officers have been in a position to purchase marijuana. On the identical time, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district legal professional, despatched letters to outlets threatening to evict them, however thus far his workplace has not initiated any proceedings.

In Albany, state lawmakers handed funds laws in April that expanded the powers of state hashish regulators and tax authorities to shut unlicensed shops and impose hefty fines for illicit gross sales. Mr. Adams’s workplace praised the measure, however urged the state to provide the town extra enforcement powers to rein in illicit smoke outlets.

Jenna Lyle, a spokeswoman for the Training Division, mentioned faculties provide a spread of applications aimed toward addressing and stopping substance abuse amongst college students, together with specialists who present counseling in faculties. However final 12 months, there have been simply 280 specialists for the town’s 1,600 faculties, Chalkbeat has reported.

Esther Lelievre, a hashish activist who conducts academic workshops at faculties at neighborhood facilities, mentioned that most of the college students who use hashish mentioned that they had began out vaping nicotine, a phenomenon that was on the rise earlier than the pandemic. Few of the scholars she has labored with obtained their marijuana from smoke outlets, she mentioned. Most acquired it from associates who had entry to a supplier or to hashish at residence.

On the Bronx Documentary Middle, a nonprofit photograph gallery close to Justin’s college, college students in its journalism program have got down to convey extra consciousness to hashish use amongst children after witnessing the change of their friends.

They mapped all the smoke outlets and faculties within the neighborhood with push pins, and linked those who have been closest with rubber bands. Displaying the map throughout a latest night class, Cara-Star Tyner, 15, famous that one of many rubber bands didn’t stretch.

“That’s how shut it’s,” she mentioned.

One of many outlets, Puff Puff Go 1, was seen by way of the window of their workroom. On a latest morning, The Occasions noticed two youngsters in backpacks and uniforms make a purchase order within the retailer, then later enter a highschool constructing. Two days later, a person who recognized himself because the store’s proprietor, Mike Alramada, 35, mentioned he didn’t promote tobacco or marijuana to college students. As he spoke, he was interrupted by youngsters ringing his doorbell to be let contained in the store, which additionally stocked some drinks and different grocery gadgets.

The journalism college students mentioned they have been dissatisfied within the adults who ran their faculties, their metropolis and the smoke outlets, and so they hoped that bringing consideration to the problem would lastly immediate the authorities to behave.

“I hope that adults notice they’re not doing their job,” Alexa Pacheco, who attends a Catholic college within the Bronx, mentioned. “A teen shouldn’t be anxious about their associates utilizing medication.”

Lauren McCarthy contributed reporting.