Marijuana odor leads to seizure of drugs, loaded pistol at Russell County High School

Body:A strong odor of suspected marijuana led to the arrest of a Russell County High School student and the seizure of a loaded 9mm gun early Tuesday, officials said.

Sheriff Heath Taylor said the student faces a first degree marijuana possession charge and unlawful possession of a firearm at the school in Seale. The juvenile was taken into custody and turned over to investigators. He may be held at the detention center in Opelika or turned over to his parents, Taylor said during a 2 p.m. news conference at the school.

The sheriff recognized the efforts of school staff and the sheriff department’s school resource officer after an odor of marijuana was detected on some students. An investigation led to one student’s vehicle where about 10 bags of suspected marijuana and a loaded 9mm pistol were seized during a search.

“The school in my opinion did a wonderful job in recognizing a potential problem,” the sheriff said. “They notified the deputy and acted accordingly and as a result of that you see the results of that investigation. You can’t ask a school system to do much more than the faculty did here today.”

Shortly after school started, the sheriff said officials were able to recover a pretty substantial amount of marijuana individually wrapped in bags and the gun with bullets. The packaged marijuana sells for $10 a bag.

Taylor decline to speculate on whether the marijuana was being sold at the school or the student just had it in the car. “It appears the marijuana was packaged for resale,” Taylor said. “That’s what I typically see it packaged like that for.”

When asked if the seizure raises concerns about a drug problem at the school, Taylor said he wouldn’t make that stretch from the incident but noted that Russell County is no different than any other high school in the nation.

“I don’t think there is a school around that don’t have students that break the law,” the sheriff said. “I’m not going to sit here and say Russell County High School is any different than other schools.”

The sheriff said he hopes the incident would make students think twice before bringing marijuana to school or leaving it in their cars. School officials have the right to search any student’s vehicle at the school. “I would hope it would send a big message that if you are going to bring contraband to school, you are going to run the risk of going to jail,” Taylor said.

William Green, superintendent of Russell County schools, said the person arrested is still a student at the school but faces some consequences from the incident. After the sheriff’s investigation is completed, Green said the school will conduct its own probe.

“There is a lot of consequences,” Green said. “I don’t want to comment on them at this point.”