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Friday, April 13, 2012

420 Provides a Chance to Counter Marijuana’s Harmful Influence on Communities

Coalitions are “re-mixing” what “420” means to youth, changing the perception that marijuana is not harmful, and are re-claiming April 20th from an unofficial marijuana smokers’ “holiday.”

Marijuana use among teens rose last year for the fourth straight year, according to the Monitoring the Future survey. In states where marijuana use is viewed by many teens as harmless, and where efforts to legalize the drug have surfaced, such as in California and Colorado, it’s not unusual to hear the local DJ do fake bong hits on air when youth are listening, at 4:20 p.m. or on April 20th.

The most widely accepted theory of "420's" origination is that in the 1970s, high school-age stoners in Northern California congregated at 4:20 p.m. daily. "420" has evolved into an unofficial marijuana holiday.

Rather than celebrating such a "holiday," educators, law enforcement officers and health advocates in Vista, Calif. want students to bungee and bounce their way to a sober and drug-free life choice at their ninth annual anti-420 event, “420 Remix, A Celebration of Sober and Drug-Free Life Choices,” on April 20.

The event, coordinated by the North Coastal Prevention Coalition, will invite 1,000 sixth-through ninth-grade students to participate in positive alternative activities after school, instead of smoking marijuana. And their parents can attend an optional presentation on “420.”

Their 420 Remix event started when counselors noted that several students in drug treatment relapsed on that day. Organizers hope that events like this will change societal norms and influence public policy, but above all, they just want kids to be kids, and enjoy themselves, substance-free, for the afternoon.

In Colorado, the Substance Abuse Coalition of Douglas County is encouraging students to “Take Back 420″ by volunteering on April 20.

The coalition organized “Take Back 420″ as a positive way for teens to reclaim April 20 as a day of rejuvenation and restoration, a day when they take their day-off to give and share. The organization is helping to coordinate day-long volunteer opportunities for Douglas County youth at various non-profit organizations and local agencies on April 20.

“The date is two days before Earth Day, and it’s the same weekend as Global Youth Service Day. These are days when people all over put their hands and hearts to work for the good of the planet and our fellow planet-dwellers,” said Carla Turner, organizer of the event and member of SAC-DC, in a news release.

“We’d like to see the youth of Douglas County make April 20th memorable for service. We’d like to emphasize the good things our teens do and celebrate all that is wonderful about our teens,” Turner said.

Marijuana is a topic of significant public discourse in the United States, and while many are familiar with the discussions, it is not always easy to find the latest, research-based information on marijuana to answer to the common questions about its health effects, or the differences between federal and state laws concerning the drug.

Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of “medical” marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people. This web-based resource center provides the general public, community leaders, and other interested people with the facts, knowledge, and tools to better understand and address marijuana in their communities.

This resource center will be regularly updated and expanded to address emerging issues, research, and prevention tools, and highlight successful local efforts to reduce marijuana use.

For more information, click here.


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