Carol Read of Medfield is working in Needham as their federally funded substance abuse coordinator, seeking to reduce substance abuse amongst Needham youth, and she also volunteers with Medfield Cares About Prevention (MCAP) (www.MedfieldCares.org). Carol also works on the state level with the Massachusetts Prevention Alliance (MAPA), which became active during the recent ballot initiative. Carol and her MAPA colleagues invited me to attend a kick off dinner last Friday evening for a group called Project SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana in Massachusetts.
Project SAM is headlined by
- former Congressman Patrick Kennedy,
- a child psychiatrist from Colorado who has studied the increased problems his patients have had because of marijuana, and
- a former drug adviser to recent U.S. presidents.
Friday evening the Project Sam members shared the data developed in places like Colorado, that has had medical marijuana for a while. The facts I took home were that
- the brains of young people are not fully developed until their mid-20’s, making them more susceptible to substances
- marijuana use by our young people puts them at increased risk for mental health hospitalizations and substance abuse problems in later life (both statistically rise with marijuana use by young people),
- fairly low levels of marijuana use (2-3 times a week for 2-3 years) were shown by a New Zealand study to reduce IQ by up to 8 points.
If these facts are correct, it is not responsible for we as parents, as adults, as a town, and as a society to allow our young people to injure themselves by means of marijuana use, without giving them all the facts. The data I heard on Friday evening really scares me for the risks that our youth are taking with the marijuana use that we know is happening in Medfield. Our youth need to get these complete facts, so they can at least make an informed decision.