Whether you voted for or against Amendment 64, curiosity on how the issue will be handled within the community is on everyone’s mind.
Coincidentally, the NEST Child Advocacy Center held training for community leaders on Thursday, Nov. 15. The training, which was scheduled prior to the passage of Amendment 64, focused on the effects marijuana has on children in the home environment.
Amendment 64, which passed rather easily in Colorado, allows those 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of the drug at specially regulated retail stores. Possession would be legal but not public use.
Rose Jergens, director of the NEST said the training was held to provide information to adults to create a safe environment for children who are in homes where marijuana is present, whether it be for medicinal or recreational reasons.
“We are not trying to say every situation is good or bad,” Jergens said. “We are trying to determine safety. It is difficult to know what is safe and unsafe in these environments when children are exposed to marijuana.”
The presentation was given by Jade Woodard, the executive director for Colorado Drug Endangered Children in Denver. She offered statistical information on marijuana and its effects on adolescent brain development, environmental hazards due to cultivation in the home, impacts on family functioning and neglect, violence and other types of abuse that come with drug use.
“This was educational for us,” said Polly Sikora, an employee at the NEST. “It alerts us to the dangers for children in those environments and prepares us for coming changes in the community.”
Participants in the training included; Cortez social services employees, law enforcement, school counselors, probation officers, health department officials, Ute Mountain Ute Social Services, judges and lawyers.
Ginger Cunliffe, NEST employee, was surprised at the information given to them and found what she learned to be helpful and shocking.
“There needs to be more education surrounding what is perceived to be a non-addictive and socially accepted substance,” Cunliffe said. “This was a huge step in the planning process of discussing risks and what protective factors are needed for families. Children’s health and safety are our number one priority.”
The community will wait to see what will become of Amendment 64 and what our community members will do to mitigate the risks it could bring. Currently, even though the amendment passed, it sets up a direct challenge to federal drug law.
In the meantime, visit the drug endangered children website at coloradodec.org and see a few of the topics covered at the training. For more information on the presentation or the NEST, call 565-8155.