“Let’s bring Health and Wellness into the town. Let’s benefit from it and regulate it.” A quote from the article in The Vermont Journal, Oct. 13, 2021.
The Black River Area Community Coalition was established in 2003 with the purpose of preventing youth substance use and violence by promoting a healthy involved community. Over the past 18 years, we have successfully worked with all our partners and communities to keep our youth safe whether through underage drinking strategies, prescription drug take-back boxes, wellness and after prom events, school educational programs, summer camp activities, youth groups, parent nights, and more.
In 2016, when drug paraphernalia and vaping stores started showing up in Ludlow, we collaborated with the Ludlow Police Department and the town of Ludlow to pass an ordinance that prohibited such products from being marketed to our youth and went further to keep marijuana and cannabis retail shops out of Ludlow. A quote from that ordinance stated: “It is the intent for the Ludlow Select Board to promote a family friendly atmosphere within the Town. This objective applies to the residents of the Town and all our visitors.”
After the passage of Act 86 in 2018, which legalized cannabis for those over the age of 21, we shifted our strategies to address the use of cannabis by our youth and young adults. According to the Vermont Department of Health: “Vermont rates of use in the past month among people aged [12-plus] were highest in the country – at almost twice the national rate.
“Adult marijuana use has steadily increased in Vermont since 2013 and use among high school students increased significantly from 2017 to 2019.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently conducted the first-ever study measuring the time between first use of an addictive drug and the onset of a substance use disorder among adolescents and young adults. In adolescents ages 12-17, 10.7% developed a substance use disorder (SUD) within 12 months of starting to use cannabis. Among young adults 18-25, 6.4% have developed an SUD. (Published in the American Medical Association, March 31, 2021).
The New England Poison Control Center reported a 160% increase in calls reporting the accidental ingestion of marijuana by children, especially with cannabis manufactured products, despite using childproof packaging and warning labels. (2019)
Just in the past several months, there has been an outpouring of support in our community for the Divided Sky Rehab Center due to the overwhelming number of people who have a substance use disorder in our state. We don’t need a dispensary in our community to make it easier for adults to purchase cannabis who might not otherwise.
Health and wellness? We don’t think so. Think of your children, grandchildren, and our young adults. Let’s keep them safe and healthy though prevention, not through retail cannabis dispensaries.
Paul Faenza, executive director