By Bianca Kasawdish
First came medical marijuana licenses, and people were quickly desensitized to the idea of marijuana and the stigma that it once had. In a Mom to Mom show hosted by Lisa Denha brought by the Eastern Catholic Re-evangelization Center (ECRC) and shown live on the Chaldean Moms of Metro Detroit Facebook page, two experts share their thoughts on the legalization of recreational marijuana, and what it really means.
Judge Linda Davis, District Judge in Clinton Township
Judge Davis deals with cases involving marijuana, alcohol and other drugs, and also educates all over about addiction and drug use. She shares she was not surprised when recreational marijuana was legalized, but it was done too fast. “We softened to the idea of medical marijuana being a medical drug and I think because of that, the barriers were broken down and people got confused about the difference between medical and recreational,” says Judge Davis.
Judge Davis believes this opens up many possibilities for use with younger people, with dispensaries offering it in so many different forms. Another point brought up is that we still do not know enough about the effect it has on someone. “I think we passed this law before we knew enough about marijuana. We need more studies done on how second hand smoke affects children, how it affects the brain in young people, what long-term effect it has on mothers when they’re pregnant,” she says.
“Your brain doesn’t fully develop until you’re 25. Young people are much more susceptible to it. This could have a real impact on their future if they start using it at such a young age. It’s the same thing with any substance.”
She shares that marijuana use is not a healthy lifestyle, and the hope is that people smoke it responsibly and it does not become a habit. When people buy it medicinally, another option is a pill form. A risk for those buying it on the street for medicinal purposes is that the pill may be laced with another substance. However, one positive aspect of its legalization, she says, is that dispensaries are a place where people can safely purchase marijuana products without the worry of it being laced.
“We have a problem with people wanting to be numb. We have bred a culture that relies on medications. We want everything instant, now. Kids just want to feel good 24/7 and that’s not life. We need to teach kids coping skills,” explained Judge Davis. “It’s a much deeper problem than just legalizing marijuana.”
When it comes to consequences for smoking marijuana in public, Judge Davis shares that currently they are minimal with people being charged a fine. But, she believes it is going to change down the line.
Stephanie Nofar, licensed professional counselor, Hope in Counseling in Sterling Heights
Nofar specializes in drug and alcohol counseling and shares she did see a larger population of people using recreational marijuana more often than they probably should have, and when medical marijuana was legalized, people were getting medical marijuana cards under false pretenses. “Anything in excess is going to be a bad thing. A harmful substance is a harmful substance,” she says.
“When it comes to young people, the younger children start using it, the more addictive it will be,” she says. “A good age to explain this to children is as soon as they’re exposed to it.”
The larger issue to look at is the question of why people need to have a mind-altering drug. This is where the line is blurred. She shares that if you have symptoms of depression and anxiety, it’s hard to tell and treat what came first because it is hard to measure if someone is self-medicating because of these issues or if the marijuana actually caused these symptoms.
“Trauma is hitting people a lot harder now. We need to have the ups and downs, we need to be able to handle those things. And if don’t, we need to have the right resources, like counselors and teachers, friends or family to go to instead of these other unhealthy things. It is addictive,” she says.