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New marijuana ordinance sparks concern over teen and adolescent drug use

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 17:43:07-04

CINCINNATI — City Council's 5-3 vote decriminalizing up to 100 grams of marijuana Wednesday have drawn mixed responses, specifically in regard to the ordinance's lack of age restrictions.

Council members who voted to pass the ordinance say this new rule isn't a green light for teens and adolescents, but parents and members of the community are alarmed about the possibility.

"There is a concern with teenagers and minors, we're talking about under 12 years old," said Kelli Newman, a resident in Cincinnati. "It starts off with marijuana and then it escalates ... so parents should definitely have a concern."

Jeff Pastor, a council member who sponsored the ordinance, said the city will work to educate families, directing children away from drug use. He stated he does not believe this ordinance encourages drug use by children.

"Of course we don't want young folks out here smoking marijuana," Pastor said. "The idea is nonsense, that you need a law to discourage or encourage a kid. (This) does neither."

Justin Berry, an addiction counselor with the Cincinnati Health Department, said as the ordinance goes into affect, parents shouldn't shy away from talking about the topic.

"I would say as parents, just don't be scared just to talk to your kids about all types of drugs, even alcohol," he said. "But, I would just talk to them and educate, even though you won't get in trouble, it's still not good for your body."

He said one concern with younger people smoking marijuana is its mood-altering properties.

"It could change their mood, they could notice a difference in their everyday from the way they think, the way they are processing things," he said. "In certain cases, it could cause them to be angry."

Despite Pastor's protestations that the ordinance doesn't provide encouragement for young people to engage in marijuana use, some parents still feel that taking away the consequences of carrying a drug could cause issues.

"My daughter is 26, but if I think back to when she was 14, I would absolutely not want her smoking marijuana at 14, or any age under 21. That’s scary,” said Toni Quitter, from Northern Kentucky.