Easthampton High School talk to address teen marijuana use

  • Students entering Easthampton High School. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/1/2021 7:35:48 PM
Modified: 12/1/2021 7:35:15 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The culture of cannabis has evolved quite a bit since the current generation of parents with teenagers were attending high school.

As such, the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition and Easthampton High School are hosting a joint event at the high school Thursday night to discuss these changes. The free event, “Cannabis Use and Teens, What’s the Big Deal?” will be led by Rick Cresta, a licensed independent social worker and a faculty member at Boston University’s School of Social Work. During the presentation, Cresta said he plans to present information on topics like the teen brain and how to engage youth in a constructive conversation on the topic.

“My focus is on teens and young adult use specifically, with an emphasis on chronic use,” he said. “While it is possible to have a reasonable debate around the harms and benefits for adult use, the evidence of harm to the pre-adult brain is substantial and growing.”

In Massachusetts, recreational use of marijuana was legalized in 2016. Since then, Cresta says the overall rates of teen usage of marijuana have increased and some are using marijuana chronically.

“This subset of chronic users is the one that parents and those of us who work with teens are most concerned with. This appears connected to the increasing belief that it causes no harm, and while it may cause less harm than other drugs, it is not harmless, with some experiencing substantial harm,” he said.

The in-person event will help provide more education to both students and families and dispel some misconceptions about marijuana, said Easthampton High School Principal William Evans.

“We tend to think of marijuana as a drug that mellows people out, and the way it’s talked about in our society downplays it,” Evans said. “With the higher levels of THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis) in several products like edibles today, I think that parents will be surprised to hear about it and the way it’s affecting kids.”

In speaking with students directly, Cresta said he emphasizes that if they do use, potency, frequency, and quantity are all important factors to consider.

“Ideally they would be better off waiting until their brain is fully developed (if they do decide to use),” he said.

Rebecca Edwards, coordinator for the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition said the coalition will continue to offer opportunities to connect with teens and parents about substance use prevention and other topics that will help create an environment in Easthampton for youth and families to thrive.

“Cannabis culture has moved very quickly locally and we want to help cannabis education keep in step. Cannabis has changed so much since today’s parent generation was in high school. The legalization has changed, the marketing has changed, and the products have evolved,” she said.

Cannabis Use and Teens, What’s the Big Deal? will be held in the Easthampton High School auditorium, located at 70 Williston Ave., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For those that will be unable to attend in-person and would like a Zoom link, contact jlibby@epsd.us.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy