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Recent Town Hall Meeting Addressed Marijuana and Vaping, a Youth Epidemic

Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Cheatham County Schools, was a guest speaker at the event (Photo: Submitted)

On March 23rd, the Cheatham County Community Enhancement Coalition held a town hall meeting at Gateway Church to discuss the effects marijuana and vaping are having on Cheatham County’s youth. Guest speakers included Dr. Cathy Beck, Director of Cheatham County Schools, and Special Agent in Charge Thomas Farmer, TBI and State Director. Dr. Beck discussed school policies related to vaping, and SAC Farmer gave an informative presentation on marijuana trends in the state of Tennessee.

Dr. Beck informed the audience of how the school district is changing the story of substance misuse and overdose in Cheatham County. Through community partnerships and the implementation of prevention policies and strict consequences, the school district did see a decrease in vaping use among juniors and seniors. Unfortunately, there has not been a significant change in vaping use among freshmen and sophomores. According to the TN Together Student Survey (2022), the average age students surveyed began vaping was 14. This means some students may be experimenting or be exposed to vaping before they even reach high school.

SAC Farmer gave an overview of the effects of marijuana, the trends of marijuana usage in the state, and how his team is countering marijuana dealers constantly altering the substance. 24.6% of youth surveyed in the TN Together Student Survey see no risk of harm if they tried marijuana once or twice. Although, studies from the CDC have shown that marijuana does have an effect on a developing teen’s brain.

One of the biggest influences on whether a youth will experiment with substances is their parents/guardian. Having an open and honest conversation about the effects of substance use could prepare the youth to make better decisions. 37.8% of students surveyed had a discussion with their family about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances. Only 16.1% of families had these conversations more than once. As children get older, they may be exposed to substances like marijuana, vaping devices, or peer pressure.

Vuocolo's Italian Restaurant catered the event, and exhibitors like American Job Center, Cheatham County School District, Colby's Army, Habitat for Humanity, Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency/Headstart, TN Voices, and the Cheatham County Sheriff's Office provided valuable information to community members in attendance.


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