‘Under the Influence of You’ aims to educate parents on marijuana, vaping
While school and health organizations work on educating the community about the dangers of marijuana and e-cigarettes, there are influencers closer to home: parents.
With that in mind, local organizations teamed up on an informational presentation on marijuana and vaping April 15 at Quincy High School and called it “Under the Influence of You.”
“We wanted to point out that parents can make a difference, that’s why we named the event ‘Under the Influence of You’ – meaning the parents,” explained Victor McBride, treasurer of the Youth Action Interact organization, which helped with the event.
“They (Youth Action Interact) felt the school health teachers did a good job on teaching youth about the dangers of substance use, but felt there was a key partner missing – parents,” commented Dayana Ruiz, Quincy Partnership of Youth coalition coordinator, after the event.
The QHS auditorium was all set on the day of the event. Youth Action Interact was waiting with free dinner and child care for attendees, and presenters Heather Massart and Cassandra Kelly with Grant County Health District had brought samples of vaping products to educate the community.
The only thing missing was a large audience – only a handful of people showed up.
However, the organizers recorded the evening’s program and planned to release it on Facebook by the end of the month, so the community still has a chance to benefit from the information presented at the event.
According to Massart’s research, cigarette smoking in Grant County has declined, but vaping has increased.
“Youth believe that marijuana use is the least harmful,” she said.
It is not the least harmful, at all. Marijuana vaping has short-term effects such as an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and coughing and wheezing. In the long run, marijuana use can lead to addiction, anxiety, paranoia and depression.
Marijuana can also change brain chemistry. The brain is not fully developed until a person is 25 years old. Thus, when a young person uses marijuana, he or she risks permanent brain development damage.
There are many ways to obtain the effect of marijuana: through oral, topical or inhalation products.
When marijuana is taken orally, for instance, as a brownie, the effect is not immediate but takes anywhere between one and three hours. This can lead to dangerous overdosing.
According to Massart, e-cigarette use increased among all grades during 2016-2018.
The devices look deceiving, not at all like cigarettes. Companies market items that resemble USB memory sticks, pens or even lipstick. E-cigarette devices can also be used to smoke marijuana.
Marketers have also found a way to tempt youth to buy e-cigarette products by masking the tobacco flavor with more palatable options, such as vanilla or candy flavors. The flavors also impart a scent that masks the tobacco smell. Thus, if your teenager’s room has a strong aroma of gummy bears, for example, it could be an indication of e-cigarette use.
For more information, visit www.granthealth.org.
By Jaana Hatton, For the Post-Register