Longtime Weston resident Tiffany Barnard Davidson moved to Westport in January. A freelance registrar for the Westport Public Art Collections, she is also the mother of a teenager. She wants to share this very personal story with the “06880” community.
On December 9, 2018, my eyes were forever opened to marijuana addiction and its deleterious consequences.
That evening, my 17-year-old son lay in my arms sobbing uncontrollably. He told me he was struggling with marijuana addiction.
My bright, enthusiastic, confident and curious son became a shell of his former self in 6 short months of vaping 97% THC oil. What started as recreational use with friends increased exponentially into daily use, multiple times a day, in his room, by himself, with plans to move on to harder drugs.
That was my son until the evening of December 9, when he had the remarkable self-awareness to see that his behavior was no different than that of a junkie shooting heroin in a back alley.
We took swift action. Today I feel extremely fortunate to report that my son has 6 months of clean time. But his road to recovery, and my commitment to educate others about the risks associated with recreational marijuana use, are just beginning.
I had absolutely no idea about today’s marijuana concentrates until I met the medical director of the intensive outpatient program at Silver Hill. I frantically asked him what my son had been smoking.
I had never heard of high-potency THC oil, which the director called “the crack cocaine of marijuana.” Likewise, I had never heard of shatter or wax or a dab pen.
I had no idea that THC oil cartridges are easily vaped in an e-cigarette device, or that marijuana could be smokeless or odorless.
I had no idea there are YouTube tutorials that show kids how to use a lighter to lower the viscosity of oil that is stuck around the edges of empty marijuana cartridges.
I also did not recognize the side effects as being remotely similar to anything I had ever associated with marijuana use: fainting, cyclical vomiting, weight loss due to severe gastrointestinal disturbances, even permanent loss of 6 to 8 IQ points.
Until I attended a speech by journalist Alex Berenson, I had no idea that chronic marijuana use could trigger schizophrenia in certain people, or that mild use caused psychotic breaks and hallucinations.
Sharing our story with many friends, I discovered that none of them knew about today’s marijuana either. Like me, they assumed it was the same flower of our youth, with THC levels of 2-5%.
I have been astonished by what I learned the past few months. My number one goal as a mom is to support my son, and provide him with all the tools possible to see him get well and stay well. I have been brought to my knees by this addiction, and by the many families I have met whose lives have been upended by addiction.
The silver lining in this crisis is that my son and I have a unique opportunity to look within ourselves to find the strength and courage that will ultimately result in success, even if the path is not always clear.
As a family, my son, husband and I have all agreed to forgo anonymity in the hopes that putting a face on this issue might encourage others to seek help if necessary. We believe there should be no stigma attached to addiction. Stigma breeds pain and isolation, at a time when people need maximum love and support.
In response, I founded Moms Against Marijuana Addiction. MAMA is an ever-growing cohort of parents, prevention professionals and concerned citizens. Our mission is to educate parents and legislators about the many risks associated with marijuana use: addiction, drugged driving, psychosis, damage to the developing brain.
We believe that legalizing recreational marijuana is normalizing a psychoactive drug in the eyes of our children. Make no mistake about it: In order to commercialize marijuana, the cannabis industry needs to hook children at a young age to maintain a steady revenue stream.
Twenty-two states — including Connecticut in 2011 — and the District of Columbia have decriminalized marijuana. States do not need to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana to decriminalize its possession in small quantities.
Legalizing recreational marijuana should not be a partisan issue. It is not a progressive issue. It is not a social justice issue. Preventing easier access to marijuana in all forms for recreational use by our children is about protecting the future of our state, our communities and our families.
Yet our state is forging ahead to legalize a drug most of us know little to nothing about. In the current state legislative session, 3 different bills to legalize recreational marijuana passed the Judiciary, General Law and Finance committees in Hartford.
How is this even possible?
Please feel free to contact me directly with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org