Posted at: 10/24/2012 11:20 PM
Updated at: 10/25/2012 6:14 AM
Marijuana arrests are on the rise in Livingston County and the sheriff's office is concerned attention to synthetic marijuana may be taking the focus away from what they say is still a dangerous drug.
The sheriff’s office and people who work in the field of substance abuse prevention want to get the word out. Marijuana is a more powerful drug, thanks to higher levels of THC. This at a time when the sheriff’s office says it’s making more arrest for possessing marijuana.
According the sheriff's office, the number of arrests for marijuana possession is already higher in the third quarter of this year than they were for all of last year and they're concerned the problem is perception that marijuana is not a serious drug.
Maureen Straight, of Avon, said, “I know from my daughters class that she's taking that it seems the majority of the kids in her class in college think it should be legalized.”
Avon resident Maureen Straight thinks many young people don’t see marijuana as a dangerous drug or a serious problem.
Straight said, “I just think that they feel it's safer, not that it's a gateway drug. It’s okay.”
Straight's feelings may be consistent with a trend police and substance abuse counselors are seeing and they're worried.
Chris Taylor, Livingston County’s Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, said, “It is important not to underestimate the dangers of marijuana and the dangerous impact it can have.”
Chris Taylor heads Livingston County's Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. He says efforts to legalize marijuana, along with a heightened focus on synthetic versions of the drug have overshadowed the dangers of marijuana.
Taylor said, “People who obtain it on the street don't know what they're getting. THC is the primary component of marijuana, but it can be mixed and cut with a number of things. So there are even dangers associated with that and what it actually contains in addition to THC.”
Taylor says marijuana can decrease motivation and ambition and in serious cases cause psychosis.
Taylor said, “Our numbers this year are going to be higher than last year if all indications remain n the last quarter.”
Livingston County’s Undersheriff says the number of arrests for marijuana possession appears to be trending upward. It’s something he says, his office is not taking lightly.
Jim Szczesniak, Livingston County Undersheriff, said, “The piece that we get out there is we're seeing a lot in the forefront with synthetic marijuana and the problem that it's creating and by no means are we saying that isn't a problem, but I think the consistent message we're trying to get out there is illegal drug use, no matter what the drug is a real problem.”
And that is what a mother of two says she teaching her daughters.
Cherie Wing, of Avon, said, “I think there's a lot of peer pressure. Hopefully I've taught them right from wrong and if they're ever in that situation, they'll know what to do.”
The other issue that concerns Taylor is marijuana is a gateway drug or in other words the drug that can lead people to stronger, even more powerful drugs.