HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Concerned Students Tackle Marijuana Issues
Pubdate: Tue, 01 Nov 2005
Source: Cobourg Daily Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005 Northumberland Publishers
Author: Karen Lloyd
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Youth)


For Every High, There Is A Low. Think About It.

This tag line will be used in upcoming public service announcements by a 
group of local students who are concerned about marijuana use among their 
peers, explained Lisa van der Vinne, a health promoter with the Haliburton, 
Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

Outside of alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug by youth, said 
Ms. van der Vinne, noting a 2003 Ontario Student Use Drug Survey shows 30 
per cent of Grades 7 to 12 students have tried it at least once.

While Ms. van der Vinne says that a person won't overdose on marijuana, the 
drug has other risks that can be just as serious as the side effects of 
such illegal substances as ecstasy, cocaine or crystal meth.

"Marijuana is just as serious, but in different ways," she said, noting the 
drug has long term dangers. "You could end up with lung cancer."

She added marijuana is illegal, clouds a users judgment and can impair 
their ability to drive, bike or even cross a busy street.

According to research conducted by the Canadian Institute for Health 
Information, its psychoactive substance seriously impairs motor and 
perceptual skills and fatality studies have found that after alcohol, 
cannabis is the drug most often found in drivers who are fatally injured in 
a collision.

The recent CIHI study found that 15 per cent of the 16- and 18-year-old 
students surveyed had driven under the influence of cannabis in the past 
year, while 12 per cent had driven under the influence of alcohol. These 
drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle 
collision than drivers who are completely sober.

The problem is, police currently have no way to determine driver has been 
using drugs.

Last year when the federal government discussed passing a legislation that 
would allow officers to conduct roadside drug tests -- through saliva, 
urine or blood, Port Hope Police Chief Ron Hoath said, "I think it's a good 

He added officers are finding more and more people are under the influence 
of something -- other than alcohol -- but they are limited to what they can 
do about it.

"It's a real problem," he said.

But Ms. van der Vinne hopes some peer-to-peer "straight talk" might lessen 
the burden.

The upcoming service announcements will challenge young people to realize 
they have choices when it comes to marijuana use. The announcements are 
also being created to encourage students think about the consequences of 
their actions if they use marijuana.

"The students were instrumental in coming up with the concepts for the 
commercials, writing the script and voicing the spots," said Ms. van der 
Vinne. "We hope these messages written by young people for young people 
will help highlight the risks of smoking marijuana."

The announcements will lead up to Drug Awareness Week, which is slated for 
the third week in November. Ms. van der Vinne hopes that by discussing 
marijuana with young people and parents, myths about it will be shattered.

"That's why it's important for some straight talk about marijuana, whether 
it be through these announcements or just frank discussions between 
students and parents talking to their teens."

Parents can be important role models, Ms. van der Vinne says. In a recent 
poll by Health Canada, 87 per cent of young people said they would trust 
their parents for information on marijuana.

Anyone who wants more information about marijuana use prevention can call 
their local health unit. Copies of Straight Talk About Marijuana -- a 
Health Canada booklet created for parents and youth -- are also available 
by visiting the Health Unit's web site
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