Pubdate: Tue, 30 Apr 2013
Source: Detroit Free Press (MI)
Copyright: 2013 Detroit Free Press
Author: Bill Laitner


Leaders of substance-abuse prevention groups launched a statewide 
campaign to warn young people about marijuana at a meeting Monday in 
Clinton Township kicked off by U.S. Rep. Sander Levin.

Teens are confused about whether marijuana is safe or even beneficial 
because Michigan voters legalized the drug for medical use in 2008 
and other states have approved it for recreational use, said Charlene 
McGunn, executive director of the Chippewa Valley Coalition for Youth 
and Families.

As more youths use the drug, "we're going to have a generation of 
kids underperforming in school and underperforming in life," McGunn said.

Leaders praised efforts by McGunn and others to create information 
packets for a campaign called Mobilizing Michigan - Protecting Our 
Kids From Marijuana, with videos and fact sheets for use by teachers, 
community leaders and faith-based advisers.

"I met with Oakland County high school students a month ago (in 
Birmingham), and they said marijuana was available to them anytime, 
anywhere, even in school. That's when I decided: We really need to 
take this on," Levin said, standing beside Macomb County Prosecutor 
Eric Smith and county Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. Levin, a Democrat 
from Royal Oak, has been a key supporter of funding for community 
coalitions nationwide.

Marijuana use among young people "hasn't taken off very strongly yet, 
but it still may," said Lloyd Johnston, a University of Michigan 
distinguished research scientist. Use by students nationwide "rose 
for several years, then leveled off in 2012, and we really don't know 
why," Johnston said.

In 2012, 6.5% of graduating seniors nationwide had used marijuana at 
least 20 times in the last 30 days, compared with 6.0% in 2000, "so 
it's definitely up," said Johnston, cofounder of Monitoring the 
Future, a study of drug use among school children that surveyed about 
46,000 youths in grades 8, 10 and 12 last year.

Marijuana use might not harm some adults, but recent research shows 
that adolescents who use it can suffer serious brain impairment, he 
said. Kids who were heavy marijuana users in their teens were found 
in a New Zealand study to have sustained a drop-off of up to eight IQ 
points by their 30s, he said.

Organizers of Monday's meeting screened attendees and, in a voice 
mail, turned away Detroiter Tim Beck, a activist for legalizing 
marijuana for adults, Beck said. So Beck showed up with a suit, tie 
and false name.

"I wanted to know what these people were up to, and they're doing the 
right thing," he said after the meeting. "This is a valuable service 
to the state because no rational person who believes that marijuana 
should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol thinks kids should be 
using any of these substances," Beck said.
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