Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council members Lydia Heald, Emily Jester, Cassie Johnson, Libby King and Faith Murphy along with other youth from the state of Iowa attended An Honest Conversation about Marijuana. During this conference they heard from Kevin Sabet, the Co-Founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), present on Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths about Marijuana.
This one-of-a-kind intensive training opportunity offered participants information on the dangers of marijuana legalization and use in the United States and more specifically in the state of Iowa. During his presentation Dr. Sabet covered information on the addictive and dangerous nature of marijuana and why smoked marijuana is not good as medication, but properties of marijuana can be used to create regulated medications for suffering patients and are currently being developed.
Some of the key points he made were as follows:
· Marijuana has harmful effects on the brain, mental health, lungs and can decrease an adolescent persistent and heavy users IQ by six to eight points – taking them from average intelligence to learning disabled.
· One in six teens who try marijuana will become addicted to it. The adolescent brain is especially susceptible to marijuana use. When kids use, they have a greater chance of addiction since their brains are being primed.
· Today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the 1960’s – in the past 15 years, marijuana potency has tripled and since 1960 it has grown five times stronger.
· Marijuana has medical properties, but it does not need to be eaten or smoked.
· There are marijuana based pills available and other medications are coming soon. Research is currently going on with marijuana properties. The development of these medications does need improvement. Research needs to be done on marijuana’s components, not the raw crude plant.
· Medical Marijuana Legalization has led to increased use – residents of states with medical marijuana laws have abuse/dependence rates almost twice as high as states with no such laws. This has also led to increased use among teens. Many teens think “If pot is medicine and sanctioned by the state, then it must be safe to use.”
The YLC members who attended this conference also participated in a question and answer session at the end of the presentation with questions and statements of their own. This conference had a wealth of information that was eye opening and helpful to all of the attendees.