About 400 people, mainly substance abuse treatment providers, are spending the day learning more about marijuana. The Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board put together the all-day conference because there's so much focus on harder drugs that people are forgetting about pot, which is the drug of choice among Summit County teens.
Dr. Neil Capretto, a medical director at a Pennsylvania-based rehabilitation center, says
"You may not die from marijuana, but marijuana has definitely contributed to deaths because of accidents, increased depression, rates of depression are doubled or tripled, suicide rates are tripled and rates of psychosis are increased," said Capretto.
Much of the discussion was aimed at making a case that legalizing marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, is not good.
"This is a tool to help people relieve pain and nauseousness and so forth," said Montcalm County (Michigan) Health Promotion Coordinator John Kroneck. "If that person's experiencing some success, okay, but again, we have TCH in pill form that has been available to do that."
Kroneck sees negative impacts since pot for medical purposes was legalized in Michigan.
It's unclear whether some form of legalized marijuana is in Ohio's near future.
It appears that Summit County teens are falling in line with an unfortunate national trend toward more marijuana use.
A recent study suggests that the number of teens who report heavy use of marijuana is up 80% over the last few year, 10% of teens get high at least 20 times per month and only 51% think that using pot poses a "great risk."
Locally, Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board Clinical Services Director John Ellis isn't pleased with the latest statistics, but says he's not surprised because they basically mirror what's happening in Summit County.
"Just by looking at last year's treatment statistics, marijuana was the drug of choice by a 10:1 ratio in our treatment facilities over the next nearest drug and that would be alcohol," said Ellis.
Ellis says there are considerable variables that are feeding that tendency for kids to use more weed: First, it's accessible. No fake ID's are necessary and nearly every teen either knows or knows of someone who knows a source that would allow them to buy marijuana without going to very much trouble. Second, Ellis says parents aren't talking about marijuana in the same way as in the past. He says today's parents are more accepting that their kids might smoke pot.
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