Posted: Thursday, August 15th 2013 at 8:54pm
A Drug Free Coalition program aims at marijuana
By Jerry Gunn Staff
Teens and parents attended 'Marijuana and Synthetic Weed: What You Should Know to Protect Our Youth'
GAINESVILLE - The Drug Free Coalition of Hall County Thursday night hosted 'Marijuana and Synthetic Weed: What You Should Know to Protect Our Youth', a special program aimed at education and preventing the use of those drugs by area youngsters.
The event was held at the Hall County School Board office on Green Street.
Coalition Director J.B. Banks gathered several presenters who are experts on the effect of the drugs and their legal ramifications. Banks said marijuana and synthetic marijuana are harmful.
“There are a lot of people who believe that marijuana is safe and that’s not debatable," Banks said."The fact is if it’s used by young adolescents it does affect their brain development.”
Banks said drug use among youngsters begins at age 12 to 13 and the goal is to prevent that very first use. Banks added that according to the 2010 Georgia Student Health Survey most Hall County high school students report they did not smoke marijuana in the past 30 days, but many of them said that marijuana was easy to get.
GBI Crime Lab Chemistry Section Manager Nelly Miles said she's seen clear evidence of how dangerous synthetic pot is for young people.
“There are breathing problems, seizures, kidney problems and two confirmed deaths in Georgia,” Miles said. “People are under the assumption that because it’s easy to obtain it must not be that bad for you but in fact, it being man made, chemicals manufactured in labs, it's extremely harmful.”
Hall County Solicitor General Stephanie D. Woodard said people are forgetting that marijuana remains illegal in Georgia.
“While public perception has changed and a lot of people see the consumption of marijuana as not dangerous, it’s still an illegal substance,” Woodard said. “There a lot of crimes that teenagers and parents don’t understand that can be prosecuted.”
Woodard said those include driving under the influence of marijuana and synthetic marijuana plus ramifications that result from marijuana use. Any transaction involving marijuana is a felony. The Solicitor General, who prosecutes those cases, said her case load for D.U.I. of marijuana and synthetic marijuana has increased significantly.
Banks said it was the Drug Free Coalition’s intention to provide the community with the information and inspiration ‘to ensure the youth of Hall County continue to make positive and healthy choices to remain drug free’.
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