Last month, this column discussed the myths about legalizing marijuana, and its impact on our children. A few weeks later, we were invited to attend a local meeting (sponsored by Strive Health, a new recovery program in Bergen County), of a number of community professionals, Jewish educators, therapists, recovery specialists and a few private individuals dedicated to combating drug addiction in our Jewish community. Clearly, our community is finally waking up to the need to be aware, to get involved and find solutions for the people in our community suffering from this debilitating disease.
The column also generated a number of emails and private discussions with us. Here, we’d like to share one email we thought we all could learn from.
“Dear Eta and Lisa,
Your June 20 article reached into my heart. I am so sorry about Eric. Thank you for a wonderful review of some of the myths about marijuana.
My son too died by suicide after years of mental illness very apparently caused or vastly exacerbated by marijuana use. His story here: http://momsstrong.org/our-stories/andys-story/. I work now to Help Andy Help Others, to reduce stigmas and raise awareness. Our purpose is to unmask the marijuana charade, much as you are doing in discussing the myths.
We aim to educate (the public) about the mental health risks of using today’s high potency products with today’s new secretive methods of ingestion through vaping and edibles. Sadly, too many deaths also occur from other effects of someone’s marijuana use—vehicle crashes, parental neglect and criminal activity are some.
Perhaps you have read Alex Berenson’s book “Tell Your Children”? It is more important than ever that we start early and arm our kids with facts even though they do sound like scare tactics. It is scary. It is dangerous.
Developments in the addiction-for-profit industry of Big Marijuana are making this a much more dangerous drug and parents need to be educated about this. Our legislators need to be educated as well so they slow down on their rush to continue the spread of legalization. Their rush is on because the product is very dangerous for too many and once the death toll reaches a critical point, voters will stop supporting the continued easing of laws protecting public health and safety.
Moms Strong and several other organizations share a wealth of information about recent science and industry developments. I would be very happy to share with you (and your readers) a list of organizations you might want to check out if you are interested in pursuing this topic further. We are all always looking for more partners to help share and educate the public.
Please let me know if we can discuss how we might magnify our marijuana education reach by working to support each other.
SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), LearnAboutSAM.org
By Eta Levenson and Lisa Lisser
Since the passing of her son Eric by suicide in 2016, Eta Levenson and her family founded the Eric Eliezer Levenson Foundation for Hope to fight the stigmatization of mental illness, raise awareness about mental health challenges and help prevent suicide. She can be reached at [email protected]
Lisa Lisser is a freelance Jewish educator focused on adult Jewish learners. She is also a board member of The T’Shuvah Center, a residential addiction recovery facility that will be opening in New York City in the fall. The T’Shuvah Center offers a Jewish response to addiction. Lisa can be reached at [email protected]