Experts inform community about marijuana

Sasha Kvitsinski, Business Manager

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On March 21, the Laguna Beach Unified School District continued its parent/student educational talks in an effort to further educate on the dangers of marijuana use. The presentation at Thurston Middle School highlighted the detrimental effects of marijuana on a user’s body, health and life.
“We’ve had talks of this nature each year in order to bring current research data and facts to our students and parents about the dangers of marijuana use and abuse.” We will continue to bring these important presentations to our students and parents as well as our community,” state assistant principal, Mr. Billinger. The district’s parent education committee has had other presentations over the course of this school year that addressed social/emotional issues such as suicide prevention, cyber safety, and will be doing another social/emotional presentation prior to the end of the school year.
Parents who attended the most recent presentation were faced with some unsettling facts regarding what ages of youth are at risk to start experimenting with marijuana as well as the short and long-term effects associated with marijuana use.
“This year, the venue for this presentation was moved to Thurston Middle School in order to create more accessibility to our middle school parents and students since many of our high school students have shared over the years that they began experimenting with marijuana while in middle school,” explains Mr. Billinger.
According to drugabuse.gov, more than 11 percent of all eighth graders will use marijuana, and in a class of around 250 students, that’s around 27 students. In Laguna Beach, this number may vary.
“Those presenting were from the following fields of expertise, medical personnel, law enforcement officials, clinicians and therapists as well as a judge,” said Billinger.
The experts offered varying views on marijuana use based on their respective specialties. The judge explained the legal consequences; the therapist, the mental ramifications; law enforcement gave a broad overview of the dangers in general.
According to Deputy Heather Timmins, drivers under the influence of marijuana get charged with DUI. Law enforcement has seen a significant increase in those drivers impaired while under the influence of marijuana.
“Since starting at LBHS nearly 11 years ago, I immediately realized there was a need to create opportunities for parents and students to attend educational presentations so that current data and facts about alcohol and other drugs being used by our youth could be shared in a caring and supportive environment,” states Mr. Billinger.
The district has always taken a serious approach when it comes to the dangers of marijuana, going to great lengths in order to prevent early use of marijuana among students.
“The goal is for parents and students to hear the same message so that they can have meaningful conversations at home long after the talks,” said Billinger. “It will hopefully bring an impactful change of choice.”
The presenters discussed the high college drop-out rates and significantly reduced IQ scores that are linked to regular marijuana use.
The hope is that students not in attendance will also benefit from the information regarding the biological, psychological and personal dangers of marijuana.
“We want to have a meaningful conversation so that you learn a lot and hopefully take back what you learn and share it with your peers,” said Deputy Timmins.
Nearly 80 middle school and high school students showed up for this valuable presentation which allowed for meaningful interaction and dialogue between the presenters and students.
“I can see you guys are very passionate about this subject, and I hope all of you will take this passion home with you and help spread the word on the subject. Everyone of us can make a difference,” said Deputy Timmins.

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Experts inform community about marijuana