Pubdate: Thu, 12 Dec 2002
Source: Atlanta Daily World (GA)
Copyright: Atlanta Daily World 2002


Court TV's "Choices & Consequences" anchor, James Curtis, gets an Atlanta 
teen's perspective on marijuana use during a teen summit Tuesday night 
sponsored by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Local teens and 
area experts recently participated in a Court TV Teen Summit at the SciTrek 
Technology Adventure to discuss marijuana and its mental, physical and 
social effects on young people.

The summit, "Embracing Knowledge, Understanding Change: Youth Weed Out the 
Myths of Marijuana," was moderated by Court TV's anchor, James Curtis, and 
taped as part of Court TV's national Choices & Consequences public affairs 
initiative, to be aired on Court TV in the first quarter of 2003.

To produce the summit, Court TV partnered with the National Youth Anti-Drug 
Media Campaign, which is part of the White House Office of National Drug 
Control Policy (ONDCP). The event was supported in Atlanta by Comcast.

Experts say that marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug among 
today's youth, and that -- despite growing scientific evidence about the 
harmful effects of marijuana on developing adolescents -- many children and 
their parents still see the drug as benign.

More young people, these experts say, enter drug treatment for marijuana 
than for all other illicit drugs combined. Youth marijuana use can also 
lead to a host of health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a 
crucial time in children's lives. It has also been linked to a decrease in 
academic achievement.

"Many teens think a little pot is harmless and don't really realize the 
great impact it has on their bodies," said Dr. Michael Kuhar, chief of the 
Division of Neuroscience at Yerkes Primate Center, Emory University. 
"Smoking marijuana leads to changes in the brain similar to those caused by 
cocaine, heroin and alcohol. And research shows that heavy marijuana use 
impairs the ability of young people to concentrate and retain information."

During the summit, moderator Curtis, who spent ten years as a prosecutor in 
California's Riverside County District Attorney's office, also addressed 
the criminal aspects of marijuana use.

Judge Glenda Hatchett of the nationally syndicated "Judge Hatchett" 
television series provided her insights into the connection between teen 
marijuana use and violent and risky behaviors.

According to experts, children say that their parents are the single most 
important influence when it comes to drugs. That is born out in a recent 
study that found that two-thirds of youth, ages 13-17, say losing their 
parents' trust is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use 
other drugs.

At the recent summit, teens, parents and community members were encouraged 
to keep the lines of communication open, as families can provide protective 
factors for children through strong family bonds, parental monitoring of 
their children's performance in school, and maintaining bonds in the church 
and community.

Court TV is working with the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to 
raise awareness among teens about the risks associated with marijuana use. 
In 1998, with bipartisan Congressional support, ONDCP created the National 
Youth Anti- Drug Media Campaign as a multi-dimensional effort designed to 
educate and empower youth to reject illicit drugs. The Campaign delivers 
messages to youth on a variety of platforms, including, negative 
consequences, norm education, positive consequences and resistance skills. 
It also targets parents and other influential adults.
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