Pubdate: Sat, 05 Apr 2014
Source: Barrington Courier-Review (IL)
Copyright: 2014 Pioneer Press Newspapers
Author: Bridget O'Shea


Barrington parents and community leaders discussed the effects of
marijuana legalization Friday morning in a follow-up to a presentation
on teen marijuana use.

Andrea Barthwell, founder of Two Dreams Outer Bank Comprehensive
Wellness Center for the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addictions in
North Carolina, talked to parents Thursday about what she identified
as myths surrounding adolescent marijuana use -- like the idea that
marijuana is harmless.

Friday's discussion at Barrington High School changed the subject
slightly, addressing the recent legalization in some states and the
negative impacts that could follow.

Although Illinois recently passed a bill to legalize medical
marijuana, legislators ensured that prescriptions will only be
available to patients with extremely debilitating conditions,
according to Bill Gentes, project coordinator for the Drug Free
Communities Program at the Lake County Health Department.

"It's a very narrow band of conditions," he said.

However, Gentes said, legalized marijuana will have to be grown within
state lines, so marijuana cultivation centers will be necessary in
Illinois. The layout of the village of Barrington, with the high
school being close to the center of town, makes it an unlikely
candidate for a marijuana dispensary location, according to Gentes.

"The likelihood of having a dispensary here in Barrington is slim to
none," he said.

Gentes said states that have legalized recreational use of the drug,
such as Colorado and Washington, have reported an increase in abuse
among teens. Because marijuana brings in so much revenue to states
that have legalized it, there is a high likelihood that provisions
will not be tightened, he added.

"The idea of a guy with long hair and a bandanna is gone," said
Gentes. "This is big business."

The legalization of marijuana, either for medical or recreational
purposes, can affect the attitudes of adolescents and teens as well as
their parents, explained Mubeena Siddiqui, an adolescent therapist at
Alexian Brothers Behavioral Hospital. Siddiqui said both teens and
their parents might cease to consider marijuana a harmful drug if it
can be obtained legally through a health care provider.

"A lot of the stigma is dropping," she said.

Paul Van DeBerg, Youth Pastor at Barrington's Lutheran Atonement
Church, told concerned parents Friday morning that treating marijuana
like alcohol might be necessary. Alcohol, he said, is legal yet still
harmful, and parents might have to add marijuana to that discussion as
well now that regulations have been generally lowered. However, Van
DeBerg said he agreed with Siddiqui about the danger of changing
perceptions of the drug among teens and parents.

"We are at the beginning of what is going to be an uphill battle," Van
DeBerg said. "There are certain parents who are going to come down on
their kids for making bad decisions and there will be others who will
do anything to clear their kid's name."

Van DeBerg, Siddiqui and Gentes suggested parents remain involved in
their children's lives for prevention or early intervention of
substance abuse.  
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