[OPINION] Westport Mom: Protect Our Future; Don’t Legalize Marijuana

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.

THC oil

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.

Cannabis wax

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.

Today’s marijuana is much more potent — and more easily hidden — than in the days of joints and bongs.

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.

Tiffany Barnard Davidson (3rd from left), in Hartford for an Embrace the Facts rally she helped organize in May.

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: tiffanybdavidson@gmail.com

65 responses to “[OPINION] Westport Mom: Protect Our Future; Don’t Legalize Marijuana

  1. Seth Goltzer

    It’s wonderful to see some rational people buck the PC trend. We don’t need another way to poison our future. Look at the real statistics in Colorado and the suffering this drug is inflicting on our Nation. 300 people die a week from drug overdoses and most of them start with marijuana.

    • Chris Grimm

      PC? What does marijuana have to do with PC? In my experience, PC is simply a dog-whistle for conservatives who don’t believe in civility and would prefer to *avoid* rational policy discussions.

  2. Amy Saperstein

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! It brave to come forward and so helpful for people to learn from your experience.

  3. Phillip Perri

    I wonder if we could turn back time to a moment when we could outlaw tobacco, saving countless lives from the well-documented ravages associated therewith along with the untold cost to society, both in money and human cost, would we? I would hasten to say that no one (even the users) would say “no”. This is where we stood a few years back with Marijuana. We will look back and say “We should have”. But now the money is too great, the profit too blinding, the tax revenue too attractive. The only problem is, in the not to distant future, society will look back and see a scourge on society that makes tobacco seem like a minor issue. Having fought and lost to “medical” marijuana in Westport and seeing the trend across this country, I’ve learned an important lesson. Other than the profiteers operating behind the scenes, there are just 3 factions involved pushing for full legalization; people who haven’t taken the time to educate themselves to the authoritative facts, those who use or want to freely use regardless of the consequences to other people and our young folks and those who have been brain washed by the “movement” into believing marijuana is no more dangerous than cigarettes or alcohol. Ms. Davidson, I feel for you and hope your son can fight for sobriety for life. Yes, it will be for life, now that he has unfortunately learned the meaning of “chasing the high”. I fear your voice is too late however as the genie is out and will not be returned. Yes, in this instance, the (much, much) worst is yet to come.

    • Mr. Perri — my son has been using “medical” marijuana (your quotes) for 22 years since being cured of cancer. It is necessary for his well-being and his life, which is happy and successful. Please know what you’re talking about before making rash statements.

  4. Valerie Ann Leff

    Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story. That took great courage. I am a progressive voter, but I do not believe in legalizing recreational marijuana.
    All my best wishes for your son’s continuing recovery.

  5. Helen Vanv Coro

    I am a substance abuse counselor for teens and the biggest drug problem in this demographic that I see is THC. Young people are failing out of school, lacking motivation and facing multiple mental health issues due to THC use.
    Every public servant who is pro marijuana legalization should be made to sit alone in a room and smoke copious amounts of the new weed before they can make their decision.

    • Uluk Chorov

      That’s a rather hot take from a substance abuse counselor! “be made to sit alone in a room and smoke copious amounts of the new weed” 🤷🏻‍♂️

  6. Regina Ertel

    This Westport Mom is doing great things, and I support her! I wish Continued success to her and her son. They are very strong people whom I admire!

  7. Phillip Perri

    Mr. / Ms. Sherman: I am all for “real” doctors prescribing marijuana to ease their patient’s pain and suffering however I object to anyone claiming it has any medical efficacy (treatment or cure of disease)-it simply does not, as any research or medical authority will tell you. There was plenty of authoritative testimony that was ignored by Planning and Zoning at all the Westport hearings on the subject. I was at every hearing. The majority of medical marijuana use is a complete farce as I am certain you either know or can easily find out. I am sorry for your son’s situation and wish him and you, the best. He is, however in the minority as far as legitimate use of the drug…..and that is STILL what it is, a controlled illegal (schedule 4 if I am not mistaken, narcotic) substance. I appreciate your opinion but I stand by my statements.

  8. Dermot Meuchner

    All I will say is … Willie Nelson.
    This is a completely one sided argument. Liquor stores every five feet is somehow better?

    • Kate Mozier Tichy

      Thank you for pointing this out! Such a double standard. Alcohol addition is a thing for teens, too, but we don’t prohibit all adults from using it. In fact, we normalize drinking alcohol as a society and it is much more dangerous.

  9. So proud of the Westport mom sharing taking the courage and sharing a real story of recreational marijuana use with the fellow residents. I believe if there is money to be made, the marijuana industry would certainly do whatever to hook our kids and make them buy and consume as much as possible.

    Speaking of medical marijuana, anyone knows what happens to the first ever Westport medial marijuana dispensary on the post road after a 46 percent stake was sold to a public company Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a vertically integrated, multistate company, for eye-popping $80M, even before the dispensary facility is built?

    https://westportnow.com/index.php?/v3/comments/westport_medical_marijuana_operator_selling_major_stake_in_80m_deal/

    “We could not have picked a better partner than Green Thumb Industries, an industry leader that shares our values, commitment to producing high-quality brands and dedication to giving back to the communities we serve,” said Lipton in the news release announcing the deal.

    When patients go to see the doctor, don’t they prefer cheaper but same effective generic medicine? Does high-quality indicate high concentration THC?

  10. Monika Lazaro

    Thank you for sharing your story. Many of us are unaware of the ‘new’, higher potency, more dangerous marijuana that is being used for recreational purposes. Our school district has invited several speakers who are trying to educate us about what is out there, how it is being used and what the serious, long term, deleterious effects are. These speakers have been eye openers to many of us with kids in the district.

    Marijuana legalization for recreational use is a serious public health issue; it needs to be addressed as such, not as a purely tax revenue issue. The experience of the states that have legalized it doesn’t bode well for our youth, for any of us, really.

    Which companies are to profit from legalization and on the backs of whose use/addition? To me, it sounds too much like Philip Morris 30-40 years ago. For each dollar of tax revenue how much will be spent on addiction awareness, rehabilitation, emergency room visits, resulting car accidents, insurance, and other costs? For once, we have the hind sight of what big tobacco did, of what happened with opioids (which are not even legal for recreational use!). If CT didn’t need new tax revenue, would we still consider making a psychoactive drug widely available just for the ‘fun’ recreational use, ignoring the social cost? I am not seeing a serious discussion of this side of the story in Hartford and I encourage concerned CT residents to write to their representatives and request that public health and safety be placed atop potential tax revenues. If our priorities are flipped, what will we legalize next?

  11. David Stalling

    Thank you for sharing your powerful and moving story. Your son is a courageous young man and fortunate to have such loving, understanding and supportive parents and others in his life — a critical component in facing and dealing with addiction issues.

    I’ve struggled with addictions as well, and have been through several rehabs and support programs that have helped me understand the genetic, psychological, emotional, behavioral and other factors that drive my addictions and how to effectively deal with them. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of loving, understanding and supportive people in my life who have helped me with my challenges and struggles.

    However, I do not agree with some of your conclusions and statements. We know plenty about marijuana and its negative and positive effects on people. The myth that it’s a “gateway drug” has long been refuted. (It’s true that many who use marijuana also use harder drugs, because marijuana is generally less expensive and easily available — but they likely would have used the harder drugs regardless. Numerous people smoke marijuana who never use other drugs; and plenty of people use drugs such as meth and heroin who never used marijuana. In other words: Use of marijuana does not lead to or increase use of other drugs.)

    There is also no evidence that the legalization of marijuana increases the use of marijuana. Studies conducted in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and parts of Canada showed no increase in use of marijuana after marijuana was made legal. In fact, some studies in Colorado showed a decrease in the use of marijuana among youth after marijuana was legalized. Researchers attributed this to a “decrease of the ‘forbidden fruit’ effect” and “reduced and tougher access to marijuana as a result of the substance being more tightly regulated.”

    I have lots of friends who are perfectly capable of having a glass or two of wine with a meal, or going to a bar and having a few drinks, or smoking some marijuana with no negative consequences to themselves or others.

    I’m not one of those people. I’m an addict. I do my best to avoid alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. That would be true regardless of the legality of the substances.

    For those who do not suffer from addictive issues, and enjoy smoking marijuana in moderation and do so responsibly, I think marijuana should be decriminalized and legal.

  12. Laura Myer

    Thank you Don K. for the intelligent, most well thought out response. It so so easy to attribute every want to “addiction”. It is an excuse and has absolutely no basis in science for this particlar substance. Recreational marijuna is not going to be sold to children, obviously, it can be obtained easily now; it is widely available and has been pervasive at my high school since I graduated in the early seventies (I have led a very productive life as have most of my classmates). Take responsibility for your behavior and consumption. I am in complete favor of recreational legalization! Criminalization is absolutely Stone Age thinking and ridiculous for the town or government to regulate. Available in Westport or not, marijuana will always be around every corner.
    It will always be better to obtain in a clean, safe environment where THC levels and purity are clearly stated.

    • Don K’s comment was removed. He did not provide a full, real name. I emailed him, asking him to do so. I have not yet heard back. Another pro-legalization comment was also removed. I emailed that commenter as well; his email bounced back as undeliverable. Readers are once again reminded of “06880” rules: Please use full, real names. I spend a lot of time adding them in for those who sign in with WordPress aliases, and deleting those if I don’t know who you are.

      • sorry for abbreviated name. also email should be correct. Thanks for informing. Here’s the original post: A lot of eye rolling reading this.. Abusing anything is bad for ones health. drugs, food, sugar, water, alcohol, tobacco, tv, video games, pornography, etc etc etc. And Too much alcohol, dead. too much caffiene, dead. Too much Marijuana, not dead! I’d argue that any ‘addiction’ to marijuana itself is really a habitual use disorder. Just as addictive as staring at your cellphone all day. In NO way is it a destructive addiction like those linked to opiods or alcohol as your son compared it. You also suggest it’s a gateway drug, which is as true as literally anything else being a gateway to something else. Jeopardy is also a gateway drug to wheel of fortune. and you relate its concentrates as the ‘crack cocaine’ of marijuana. Lindt dark chocolate is also the ‘crack cocaine’ of chocolate, but why are we comparing these to such a hard and addictive drug..? oh yeah. Also, the legal marijuana industry doesn’t ‘hook children’ to ensure profits. Preventing use by children starts with laws and education, in school and at home. Children cannot buy marijuana whether it becomes recreational, or not, yet your underaged son had no difficulty accessing/using it via illegal means for an extent of time. Regarding it’s appeal, If a video game was banned from sale, it’s popularity would grow. If I told you not to think about breathing each breath, you’d start paying attention to your breathing.. And legalizing something relatively harmless can lessen it’s allure. Fighting to prevent future legal use of recreational marijuana is just what the pharmacutical industry wants to see. There’s a lot of money in their patented drugs, designed in labs, all with pages of side effects. While marijuana is just a plant. there’s numerous benefits from CBD oils. The FDA approved a CBD drug to treat seizures/epilepsy. To blindly blanket a ban on recreational use for all is driven by fear more than education. No, not many studies in the US are performed on marijuana, but again it’s difficult when it’s illegal. But again, of existing studies, where’s the true harm. How has legalizing affected Colorado and Washington, and all of Canada. Besides increases in tax revenue and tourism. We needs studies, data etc for all sides, but not to fight for fear of the other side when it can be much greener (pun intended). I welcome legalization of recreational marijuana for any adult that finds health benefits from it rather than a cocktail of prescriptions.

        • Karen Randall

          Yes, the FDA approved epidiolex. Read the side effect profile listed for this. This is NOT similar to the CBD being supplied by dispensaries. There are any number of studies – recent – that show the CBD being purchased has a HIGH likelihood of contaminants, pesticides as well as a significant chance that what is being sold is not what is being labeled on the packaging. This is clearly buyer beware product. The industry has been nothing but reckless in advertising the numerous false and unsupported/researched claims about the curative powers of CBD. This is a huge disservice to the public. With regards to the conversation about legalizing to keep kids from getting pot – um. Not so. I am in CO. There is a recent CO School resource officer report about where kids get the marijuana that gets confiscated at school – 23% got it from their parents. An additional 39% got it from someone who bought it legally. I did outreach in a small town that rejected marijuana sales in their county. The coach told me that parents drive to Pueblo – buy marijuana legally or illegally, bring it back to their “dry” county and have their kids sell it at school. Is this beneficial to the community? To kids? Is this preventing their use? Lets be very clear – I live and work in southern Colorado. Kids here are using more and when they use, they head straight for vaping concentrates – leading to increased total mg usage of drugs. They are using more and younger. I have seen any number of acutely psychotic patients from marijuana, age range 11-79. Psychosis happens. No one has to take my word for it. Search PubMed or even google. There is a plethora of recent literature that shows this. Hiding or not acknowledging the harms is doing our youth a VAST injustice.

          • Yes, some CDB products can be contaminated. Because the CDB oils currently sold here mostly comes from hemp not marijuana. And the hemp industry doesn’t have the regulation and strict standards as enforced on marijuana. Amazon doesn’t allow ‘CDB’ or cannabinoids to be sold on their site, yet random sellers try selling ‘hemp oil’. And who knows what they’re getting in these cases. And those cases are mixed into those reports. This is all a separate issue. CBD cannabinoid is seen to reduce anxiety and pain. I never said legalizing marijuana would keep it away from kids. How about we make alcohol illegal for the sake of the children? And lets ban prescriptions drugs for all, just in case some kids ever decide to abuse them.. Whether something is legal or not, a percent of people will still have access them. You can’t ask to make something not exist. You mention a report, but what’s the other 38% and how accurate is the data. Also how has the number of cases changed over the years before and after legalization. In 100% of those cases the kids / young adults chose to break the law. Let’s not just point at data we wanna see. You make a point that some (terrible) parents buy marijuana outside their area of enforcement and it ends up being sold to children. So.. have the “dry” towns laws worked? Maybe if it was a dry state, or a dry country? Laws are not going to stop people of any age that chose not to follow them. If kids ‘head straight’ to vaping, let’s ask why? Maybe because it’s easier to hide than joints, visually and aromatically. Both concerns if they’re trying to not get caught. Many who vape nicotine also end up smoking higher doses than if they smoked cigarettes. Neither is good, but it’s an issue with vaping in general not marijuana. Yes there will be more cases of people of all ages having consumed more the than they should have. More odd calls to 911 because they think they’re dead. But that’s because more people want and use marijuana than before. Higher usage will result in higher cases of abuse. But what percent of use results in a trip to the hospital. If percent of use is constant, the numbers go up (ex, 5% of 1000 users vs 5% of 100,000). That increase alone doesn’t make a crisis. Also what percent of users with ‘psychosis’ might have these conditions without marijuana use? Does usage/abuse only magnify their precondition.

  13. Paul Hicks

    No offense, but not only are you horribly misinformed, this is an obvious lie to fear monger people that don’t know better.

    The weight loss due to severe gastrointestinal issues was hilarious.

    If you want me to pick this apart for you, feel free to let me know. But do yourself a favor: if you’re going to lie, do better. Maybe do some actual research, Reefer Madness is so 1900’s.

    • Karen Randall

      Dear Mr. Hicks. To not acknowledge the harms of marijuana is “reefer blindness”. There are harms happening. Not sure if you are a medical person, but I am. I work in a large emergency department in CO. We see cannabinoid hyperemesis at least daily. Many patients return multiple times – not wanting to admit the drug they love is causing their issues. Even High Times printed an issue about hyperemesis (this may be your peer reviewed literature) – I believe in 2014. You can not ignore this. These people are thin and sickly. Please stop trying to deceive the public. Open your eyes. Look around. The fat weed smoker of the 70’s is gone. They are being replaced by people who look far older than their stated age and who border on cachexia. I say these things from personal experience and know that you, if you choose to, can open your eyes and search out this literature (even in the high times). If the industry does not start acknowledging the harms and doing some self-policing, the whole industry will get shut down. This will be the new drug addiction crisis.

  14. I agree whole-heartedly with the thrust of this article.

    My 22-year old son was at a party a couple of months ago in the Boston area where he tried vaping THC for the first time. He soon went into a debilitating seizure and was taken to a hospital, where the doctors put him through thousands of dollars worth of neurological tests before asking some more questions and finally figuring out what had happened. He was released the next day and is fine now, albeit chastened and hopefully wiser.

    This drug does not affect everybody the same way. Since my son’s experience, I’ve done some research and learned that there have been reports all over the country of seizures resulting from THC experimentation. Neurological seizures are weird and terrifying events for people experiencing them and for anybody forced to watch them in progress. Such visible drama obviously affects only a minority of users, but one has to wonder about the potential for subtler and more insidious impact on others. I see no evidence that anyone yet fully understands how this particular drug impinges on a developing human nervous system. Until we do, I believe we have to put the brakes on further expansion of its recreational use.

    I do understand marijuana provides needed relief to people with certain medical conditions. They should certainly have unimpeded access to it, but only discretely and under controlled conditions as with other prescribed medications. It should not be getting marketed and distributed in a manner that suggests to young people that it’s fun, harmless and cool. All of us need to be aware of the fact that big money is now behind the nationwide drive towards legalization. And none of us should be under any illusion that these folks have the best interests of our children at heart.

    As a Westport papa, I offer my support to MAMA!

  15. Jimmy Izzo

    Thank you Tiffany and all who took the time out to comment. As a member of the RTM, my colleague Greg Kraut and I are coming before the full RTM with an ordinance to ban the sale of recreational marijuana in Westport.
    Will this ordinance pass in July in front of the full RTM?
    I don’t know. We have had tremendous input from members of the RTM who have concerns about our ordinance. We are now presenting our 3rd first reading.
    THC is the big elephant in the room. Our Police are yet to have the technology to arrest someone for “drugged driving” and have it hold up in court.
    THC levels in eatables are hard to control and monitor. Today’s Marijuana is not the same of the 60’s 70’s and 80’s
    We approved the retail sales of Medical Marijuana. I voted for it, and know it helped my sister and cousin when they were battling cancer. It helped them eat and deal with pain.
    Unfortunately, I have a problem letting recreational marijuana run wild on the retail side.
    We need to ask our souls, is the revenue, which we have no idea what it will be, and how it will be dispersed worth the potential health and psychological risks to our kids, adults, and society?

  16. Nancy Cleveland

    For those of you who are pro legalization of marijuana I suggest you contact Ginger Katz Courage to speak Foundation. She is a wealth of information. She lost her son due to drugs. He started out smoking marijuana which led to a heroin addiction which lead to his death. Not a gateway drug..really?

  17. Robert Macieski

    I can’t remember which came first, the pronouncement of the War on Drugs or my first educational program on drug abuse. I was in Bedford Junior High when two police officers came into my class with a desktop display case that opened and showed a diverse array of street drugs, from glue and cannabis to heroin and LSD. It was immediately educational, it explained why there were so many plastic bags with glue in the woods up on the hill overlooking town, for instance. People were “getting high” and it was wrong. Terrible things would happen if you tried any of it. I was reading Mad magazine at the time, so my bullshit meter was fine-tuned. Shortly after that class demonstration I began smoking cannabis at 15. By the time I went to Staples High I would try most of the drugs in the cabinet. All their warnings turned out to be untrue. It was 1972 and Nixon was inaugurating the War on Drugs to get his political enemies.

    Since then I have smoked, smuggled, sold, and grown cannabis. I smoke daily, the highest grade I can get. Depending on the strain it is a real creative boost for me, a euphoric high. It can also help with sleeping and with pain. Most importantly for me, it helps with depression. I’m on pharmaceuticals that have hazardous side effects and are very difficult to get off. Legal pharmaceuticals are far more harmful. I have a son who became a heroin addict from oxycodone prescribed for treatment of a back injury. He never smoked cannabis. From the dawn of time cannabis has been known and used for sacred ceremony and healing. No one in all that time have died from cannabis. Cannabis flower has few side effects, of much more forgiving character. I don’t vape often so I can’t intelligently comment.

    When I first began smoking there were weeks when Acapulco Gold, Columbian Gold, or Panama Red arrived in Westport. It cost more and it went quickly. Purest gold, brilliant red, incomparable smoke, delicious and mind altering; all that today’s strains can only strive to copy. High powered weed is not new. Paraquat put an end to those ancient fields when the US government decided that poisoning pot smokers was preferable to leaving them to their own consciousness.

    Westport was a forgiving place for smokers of my era. I left Westport when cocaine was coming in and I learned I wanted no part of that. I had marvelous years in Westport and subsequently went on to have a very successful life. The Drug War has been the most destructive social policy in my lifetime, by any measure. Its time to legalize, and in my eyes, pray for forgiveness for the horrors we have wrought.

    I will smoke no matter whether you legalize or not. My advice to Tiffany is to tell your son not to vape again. For me it’s simple, get your laws off my consciousness. As the Reggae song goes: Legalize it!

  18. David Stalling

    Nancy, that’s a horrible and tragic story. My heart goes out to Ginger Katz, her son and their family and friends. But are you certain her son would never have tried heroin if he had never tried marijuana? I know lots of people who use marijuana who have never used, and have no desire to use, other drugs. I know a person who got hooked on meth, but he never used marijuana. He did drink beer. Could beer be a gateway drug? On the other hand, most people who drink beer don’t go on to use meth. Similarly, the overwhelming majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, “harder” substances.

  19. Jeffrey Wright

    Tiffany thank you so very much for your real time experience. This is a no joke environment and as a father of four teenagers under 17 I stress every single waking moment and then some. No this is not your fathers pot and the consequences are clearly that much more severe. Perhaps it’s time for the local Hartford Legislators to explain their support or opposition. As a parent I think this is a layup decision.

  20. Erick Orton

    Lady you are stupid. Plans to move on to harder drugs? We’re they written down? How does one go about planning to do hard drugs? Sounds like a parenting problem….just blame it on the pot.

  21. Monika Lazaro

    https://www.caron.org/blog/2019/05/hard-facts-on-marijuana
    There is plenty of research out there, backed by the medical professionals who study and see the negative effects of marijuana. It is important to become informed by those experts, not just by the users and those who want to make money from marijuana users. Big marijuana will have us all believe it is harmless, much like big tobacco used to… imho marijuana addiction doesn’t have to kill you from an overdose to be harmful.

  22. Amy L Kaplan

    I feel for her, I really do, but there are hundreds and thousands of cases where marijuana is so beneficial. As a cancer patient who has lived in pain for 22 years, I have not tried it yet (but am heading in that direction), but have many friends who cannot live without it. It controls pain and many times seizures as well as alleviates the symptoms many other debilitating ailments. Alcohol and prescription drugs can cause these same problems of addiction when not used as directed or used in quantity recreationally. We don’t ban them.

    • Monika Lazaro

      Amy, the uses you describe would be considered ‘medical’, not recreational, correct? I think the opinion piece strictly relates to legalization for recreational use, just for the fun of it, regardless of the harm it can cause, especially among younger uses. This article has a number of links with further research: https://www.caron.org/blog/2019/05/hard-facts-on-marijuana

      • But why should medical use be limited to only those with serious conditions when it can be helpful to any adult. People are prescribed opiods for minor dental pain and then get hooked on them. Plenty of regular people suffer from anxiety or pain. Why favor serious addictive drugs (opiods) over marijuana. Do adults only have a glass of wine after work ‘just for the fun of it’? Of course not. ‘Recreational use’ is just a term for a larger legal acceptance within the state.

        • Monika Lazaro

          Precisely, because making it widely accessible would result in more of the problems we already have with other legal addictive substances. I don’t see the gain in adding one more addictive psychoactive drug to the arsenal of what people can already use ‘recreationally’, especially when it would be so difficult to regulate and track and test for, for example, driving while high. Don’t we have enough legal recreational addictive substances? Where do we stop after normalizing marijuana? Which drug would you consider next, and why?

          • Marijuana is not addictive like opiods or alcohol. (see my first post above regarding thoughts on marijuana ‘addiction’)

    • Robert Harrington

      Tiffany – thanks for your comments and your courage to come out and put your name to your family’s difficulties.
      I truly respect that. Whatever people’s views on legalizing this drug or not – can people at least be civil to her and respect what she and her family have gone through? There are so many cases where marijuana is beneficial to those that use it. Many people need it for medical reasons. Many others are responsible recreational users. However, we should also acknowledge that many families are put under incredible stress as many kids fail to use this drug responsibly. We can pretend that is not the case or we can criticize a mom for bringing this home to us in such a moving way. But whatever our reaction here or views on legalizing it or not – there are many kids that are being challenged by this and need more support whatever the drug’s legal status.

  23. Bobbi Essagof

    Thank you Tiffany for sharing your story and your pain so selflessly with all of us. I have many opinions and feelings about drugs and the legalization but my comment here is for those of you who are being rude and judgmental to Tiffany and the other commenters. If you have nothing nice or useful to say then please say nothing at all. Most comments were very enlightening. Thanks Dan for providing this forum. To those who comment just to be nasty, maybe you need to find another outlet.

  24. David Stalling

    After marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2013, the Colorado General Assembly directed the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study of the impacts. The data in the report was collected and provided by various local, state and national sources, and thus some of the data has previously been released or reported on by other safety agencies — and is consistent with the findings of similar studies done in Washington, Alaska and throughout Canada.

    The “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” report is unique in that it seeks to present a comprehensive analysis of as many data points as possible in order to provide an accurate and unbiased resource to policy makers and the public.

    Here are some of the findings in regards to high-school students:

    * The total number of suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals for any reason has remained consistent post-legalization.

    * Marijuana was the most common single reason for school expulsions (22%) and law enforcement referrals (24%) in the 2016-17 school year, the first full year where marijuana was reported separately as a reason for disciplinary action.

    * Graduation rates are up and drop-out rates are down since 2012. The Graduation rate rose steadily from a 10-year low point of 72 percent in the 2009-2010 school year to 79 percent in the 2016-2017 school year. Over that same time period, the drop-out rate decreased from 3.1 percent to 2.3 percent.

    * The youth marijuana rate reported for the 2015/16 school year (9.1%) was the lowest it’s been since 2007/08 (9.1%).

    * The proportion of high school students reporting using marijuana ever in their lifetime or reporting past 30-day use remained statistically unchanged from 2005 to 2017.

    * The proportion of students trying marijuana before age 13 went down from 9.2% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017.

    * Alcohol was the most common substance students reported using at any point in their lives (59%) followed by e-cigarettes (44%) and then marijuana (35%).

    Here’s a link to the full study: https://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2018-SB13-283_Rpt.pdf

  25. Tiffany Davidson

    Thank you for ALL of the comments. I’m thankful to Dan for publishing our story. It’s taken me six months to process what our family has gone through and to find the courage and strength to submit this to 06880 for consideration. I am fortunate to have the support of family and friends who have encouraged me along the way. I understood very well that opening myself up to the public would result in a range of comments. I made peace with that reality prior to Sunday’s publication date. Our story is just that: our story. It’s our truth. It’s certainly not everyone’s truth. I’m not necessarily interested in preaching to the choir or bringing the pro-legalization folks to my side. But if I am able to reach just one parent with a similar story and let them know that they are not alone, I consider that a win. Thanks to all who have taken the time to read this post.

  26. I’ve heard the same thing about today’s marijuana being a totally different experience from when we were young in the 60s/70’s… far more potent. Although I had one experience at a Traffic concert back in the 70’s with some that was treated with thc — one of the few and the last time I ever tried pot. It was horrible and enough to cure me for life from ever being curious again about it.

    Not sure I can agree about all hemp cbd — I’ve had a huge education from my son-in-law who is part owner in a hemp cbd company out here in Pacific Northwest. It’s grown in totally pure Oregon soil, 3rd party tested and our vets get major discounts and help from the compay for relief — it’s a very ethical and caring company. It’s one of the top 15 hemp cbd oil companies in the US. Helped my dog who was suffering and recently passed. 😦

    Some people like wine, some like cbd products including pot, some hemp, some like a martini — people have to be free to make their own choices for their relief and their enjoyment (I personally don’t think a martini or a glass of wine is so bad either) but I think an age limit must be imposed on these substances. 21 is the age for alcohol and is a good rule of thumb for cbd products unless medically prescribed. Young people, as we know ourselves from our own youth, don’t understand our mortality as humans yet. They need guidance from us, their leaders. And all things in moderation — that’s a lesson.

  27. This woman is crazy, you CANNOT get addicted to marijuana. Opioids are addictive and people who need the opioids for pain relief are being taken away because of addiction. Medical marijuana is now used for pain, sleep, nausea, and many other health problems.

    • Robert Harrington

      Dee Byrd,

      To claim someone is “crazy” is just poor form and in bad taste. Whether or not you agree with legalization or not – please at least try and respect and understand what her family has gone through. There is a much bigger drug problem in our schools and with our youth – and not all tied to marijuana. I think many people need to open their eyes to what is going on in this town and within our schools – and in other towns. I don’t have a strong view on the legalization question – but I do have a strong view that the trend is not good and we need to be more understanding to what too many families are secretly going through.

    • David Stalling

      Addiction is defined as “compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.” For those of us prone to addiction (for various genetic, biological, physiological, behavioral, emotional and other reasons), under the right circumstances, anything that can provide temporary pleasure, relief and escape with negative consequences can become addictive — that includes alcohol, sex, eating, gambling, pornography and, yes, marijuana. So no, she’s not crazy.

    • Karen Randall

      So I have to ask just what you think is “stupid” about living a drug free life? And what makes you think that you have all the knowledge? As a physician – I encourage you to really read the medical literature or even the lay literature. There some really “smart” people writing their opinions.
      https://www.eagletribune.com/content/tncms/live/

    • Karen Randall

      Take a listen: this is from an addiction psychiatrist:

  28. Phillip Perri

    Blake: https://vimeo.com/215716709 Dr. Ruth Potee on addiction and the adolescent brain. She spoke at Staples just recently. If this doesn’t scare/convince you of the folly of sending a message to our kids that marijuana is not harmful I do not know what would.I have to question whether you have raised kids when you can state that problems like falling into addiction is due only to how someone is parented or raised. That is an unfortunate simplification and hurtful sentiment to the many good parents that became victims of a society that values money over human suffering. I implore everyone reading this to watch the video. As another reader stated, you all have no idea how bad this problem is in our Westport schools…and NOT just Staples.

  29. John Mulkerin

    Question: should alcohol also be banned? It is far more addictive and harmful.

    • Karen Randall

      We don’t actually know how alcohol will compare to high concentrate THC preparations in the long run. Can I ask a question? Whenever there is no response, the standard response is what about alcohol? So, am I to assume that because we have an addictive substance, alcohol, that in your mind, it justifies another? That is what it sounds like to me. Communities are NOT making money from tobacco revenue/taxes, nor are they making “bank” from the alcohol industry. The societal harms far outweigh potential profits. Why would you think the marijuana industry would be different? I live in CO. I just met with head start and the public health department. We have seen a tremendous rise in emotional disorders, emotional liability, learning disorders and autism spectrum disorder in the last 3-4 years (research coming). The costs of children born to addicted parents (not just pot) is huge and the entire community will bear the cost of learning disabilities, impulse control disorders, increased autism. As a pediatrician, these trends are exceptionally alarming. Many parents here continue to use cannabis products through out pregnancy. The number of THC + babies being born here is markedly increasing. The public would and does frown upon a pregnant woman drinking at a bar or smoking cigarettes – why? Because is has become socially unacceptable. And now? We have another substance – marijuana that is “wonderful” and it is supposed to be socially acceptable to smoke it, smoke it in public, etc?

      https://www.cpr.org/news/story/study-most-dispensaries-recommend-marijuana-to-pregnant-women-against-medical-advice
      https://www.ncsbn.org/AAP_Marijuana_Use_During_Pregnancy_and_Breastfeeding.pdf
      Even better, there are groups like this who advise pregnant women how to use and when to stop so that they can test negative -basically how to deceive.
      https://community.whattoexpect.com/forums/ganja-mamas/topic/colorado-ganja-mamas-62927811.html

  30. Karen Randall

    Mr Johnny America: are we to assume that you are the representation of the cannabis/pot users? You are almost illiterate in your paragraph. Your limited command of the English language is showing.
    Compounded with a string of insults? Are your insults, name calling, bullying principals meant to change our minds about the benefits of cannabis? Your behavior is the embodiment of why we don’t need more. The vitriol spewing from people like you is amazing. You can not even be civil.

  31. Karen Randall

    It is going to get harder and harder to ignore the harms. More and more is being published. Here are 2 more recent publications – one is medical and one is lay press:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6039574/
    https://nypost.com/2019/05/29/vaping-linked-to-violence-property-theft-among-teens-in-us-study/

    • So vaping is a gateway to criminal behavior now. lol.. These kids chose to break all types of laws. do you think they’d stop at smoking tobacco or marijuana? correlation doesn’t imply causation. Pointless and misinformed study. Let’s just shape data how it fits our views.

      • Monika Lazaro

        Don, the number one vaping company Juul is now partly owned by Cronos (Marijuana co) and Altria (Philip Morris). They know that vaping is a ‘perfect’, easy and smokeless delivery system for marijuana and since kids were finally not smoking cigarettes, where do you think this ownership structure is meant to lead??

      • Monika Lazaro

        Don, the number one vaping company Juul is now partly owned by Cronos (Marijuana co) and Altria (Philip Morris). They know that vaping is a ‘perfect’, easy and smokeless delivery system for marijuana and since kids were finally not smoking cigarettes, where do you think this ownership structure is meant to lead??

        • Phillip Perri

          Yes Juul is owned by Altria. Why? Because our kids are smart enough to realize the devastating effects of the paper cigarette and it will surely disappear within our lifetimes. The tobacco companies have seen this coming and needed to find an alternative “safe” way to hook a new generation…enter vaping. Dr. Potee’s presentation highlighted that our kids believe vaping nicotine is safe. Middle school on up. Setting both an addiction to nicotine as well as changing brain patterns towards addictive behavior. Sound familiar? At one time tobacco companies told people cigarettes were safe, asbestos manufactures told people it was safe, etc. money first…no matter the human costs. No one wants to curtail their selfish “right” to anything they desire regardless of the devastation on other people.

  32. Thank you Dan for publishing Tiffany Davidson’s story about her family’s struggle with marijuana addiction. When I read Tiffany’s account of what her son, she and her husband Andy have gone through I was beyond surprised. I never thought of marijuana as addictive and I had no idea that a person could consume marijuana in any other way than smoking or eating it in some sort of baked good. I don’t think of myself as naive but I honestly feel that way now. I had never heard of high-potency THC oil and I had never heard of shatter or wax or the dab pen Tiffany writes about. I know the potency of marijuana is extreme compared to the “old days” but that’s as much as I knew before reading this brave account of what this family has gone through. I was already against legalizing marijuana — we have been fighting for decades against the tobacco industry to stem smoking and have lost thousands and thousands of young people to drunk driving accidents. Why do we want to legally allow people–especially young adults–to access yet another harmful and impairing substance? More impaired driving will lead to more accidents and more deaths. If Connecticut legalizes marijuana, I guarantee you in a decade if not sooner there will be a movement to make marijuana illegal again. I think decriminalizing marijuana possession is a good step to keeping people out of prison who don’t belong there but going this next step is such a huge mistake. Please heed Tiffany’s words and her son’s experience and don’t support the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut.

  33. Bruce Haymes

    Very happy that this adolescent is ok but the recommended approach makes no sense. All of this happened to her son while marijuana is illegal and only available on the illicit market. Legalization would reduce teen accessibility not increase it. Others have covered the mistaken facts included in the author’s letter to Dan but from westport’s perspective the issue is whether we will allow adult sales (when they even happens who knows) on our town. I link the following compilation of research related to the most important issues related to a community’s decision: the conclusion after five years of data compilation from Colorado and Washington is that adult sales reduced teenage access and consumption, reduced crime and either had no impact on housing values (most rose in value). I’m not in favor of teen usage but it’s unrealistic to wish away cannabis access. A legalization system will make it harder to access, better educate teens (via tax revenues) and remove the illicit market (Source: Leafly Study Debunks Dispensary Myths Around Crime & Teen Use | Leafly

    • Karen Randall

      At the risk of sounding rude, Bruce, you must not live in a legal state. Marijuana is everywhere. The kids have easy access to products. Here is what has happened to the black (illegal market) in Colorado in the last few months. I guarantee you, these are not the only illegal grows. Think that legalizing will make it harder for kids/youth to get? Think again. I encourage you to read these. If you want to really be informed, go to the last link and watch the youtube video referenced.

      The following bust was a massive bust of just one portion of cartel grows:
      https://kdvr.com/2019/05/24/42-arrested-across-metro-denver-in-massive-black-market-marijuana-bust/

      Another: https://www.kktv.com/content/news/Two-arrested-in-illegal-marijuana-grow-bust-510365371.html

      4500 POUNDS of pot seized:
      https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/05/24/marijuana-raid-asian-pride-drug-trafficking-organization-busted/
      Ok, more:
      https://koaa.com/news/covering-colorado/2019/05/01/deputies-find-about-100-marijuana-plants-in-grow-house-bust/

      Oops, wait, some more:
      https://www.krdo.com/news/officers-deputies-bust-one-of-the-largest-illegal-grows-in-el-paso-county-/1067724141
      https://www.thecannabist.co/2018/01/26/woodland-park-colorado-marijuana-raid/97649/

      How much of this do you need to hear? One last thing, here is a link to a DEA agent from Colorado speaking at a conference with regards to the illegal market in Colorado.

      • David Stalling

        After marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2013, the Colorado General Assembly directed the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study of the impacts. The data in the report was collected and provided by various local, state and national sources, and thus some of the data has previously been released or reported on by other safety agencies — and is consistent with the findings of similar studies done in Washington, Alaska and throughout Canada.

        The “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” report is unique in that it seeks to present a comprehensive analysis of as many data points as possible in order to provide an accurate and unbiased resource to policy makers and the public.

        Here are some of the findings in regards to high-school students:

        * The total number of suspensions, expulsions, and law enforcement referrals for any reason has remained consistent post-legalization.

        * Marijuana was the most common single reason for school expulsions (22%) and law enforcement referrals (24%) in the 2016-17 school year, the first full year where marijuana was reported separately as a reason for disciplinary action.

        * Graduation rates are up and drop-out rates are down since 2012. The Graduation rate rose steadily from a 10-year low point of 72 percent in the 2009-2010 school year to 79 percent in the 2016-2017 school year. Over that same time period, the drop-out rate decreased from 3.1 percent to 2.3 percent.

        * The youth marijuana rate reported for the 2015/16 school year (9.1%) was the lowest it’s been since 2007/08 (9.1%).

        * The proportion of high school students reporting using marijuana ever in their lifetime or reporting past 30-day use remained statistically unchanged from 2005 to 2017.

        * The proportion of students trying marijuana before age 13 went down from 9.2% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017.

        * Alcohol was the most common substance students reported using at any point in their lives (59%) followed by e-cigarettes (44%) and then marijuana (35%).

        Here’s a link to the full study: https://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2018-SB13-283_Rpt.pdf

    • Monika Lazaro

      You seem to quoting data from Leafly, self described as “the world’s largest cannabis information source”, owned by Privateer Holdings as part of its portfolio of cannabis brands. Biased and self serving perhaps, as a for-profit holding? I imagine so. You can find contradicting data from many sources which do not depend on marijuana sales for profit, such as: Learnaboutsam.org might be worth your while to see their research and perhaps question Leafly’s findings.

  34. Daniel Costa

    Personally I think mrs. Davidson needs to get her facts straight about THC. Colorado and other states have been doing great since THC has passed! The people are still thinking in old times. The times are moving and small towns and there economy has to create ways to establish revenue. THC is so much safer than alcohol but because THC has been criticized by people with no knowledge and expierience with it. It was deemed bad with no research to back there opinion. One thing for sure is that nobody put the THC in her sons hands but himself. Whatever happened to saying NO! It was her role to explain to her kids what her idea of bad and good is. Apparently she did not do well with that so the next best thing is to blame the industry. THC has done wonders for cancer, seizures, Hep C and other illnesses. While other towns are keeping up with today’s times and excelling by creating new things for the towns with the taxes it earns from sales. Mrs. Davidson will try to keep extra tax money out of Westport and continue to see Westport decline. It really doesn’t make sense cause the PEOPLE of Massachusetts have spoke! Keep it up Mrs. Davidson cause the city’s and towns around you are creating revenue from people who are 21and older and have choices as a citizen. Meanwhile there are liquor stores everywhere in Westport. While mrs Davidson has her choice of stopping at a liquor store before going home and drinking a couple glasses of wine with her friends. Citizens of Westport also should have the right to stop at a store and buy there Cannabis before they go home! Today’s society loves to put the blame on everything else but themselves! People make choices whether they make the right or wrong one for themselves. It doesn’t mean the next person should suffer and not have the opportunity to do things that are legal because your son choice to abuse it! Just remember people die everyday from drinking and especially when they decide to drive and end up in a bad accident. It doesn’t mean that all the liquor stores should be taken out of Westport because of another mans actions. Word to the wise always be responsible and teach your kids to be responsible for there actions and never pass the Buck off to someone else!

    • Karen Randall

      Dan the man,
      I have a few things to say to you. First, you must not live in CO, WA, CA or states that have legalized. You would realize that our homeless populations have markedly grown, at a pace that outstrips the rest of the country. Our youth are using more. There is no question of that. Our DUIs are increasing. Our jails are fuller than ever before. Do you think that the opioid people “choose to be addicted” as well? Addiction is a disease. It happens. More and more literature shows that the higher the potency the THC, the more frequent the addictive behavior – cannabis abuse or use disorder – look it up. Feel free to expand your horizons.
      Please just show me one, ONE, legitimate study that shows THC fixes/treats/cures hepatitis C. JUST ONE. That is another deceptive myth put out there by an industry that just simply wants to sell/move product. Dispensary marijuana does not treat cancer, cure hepatitis C, treat eczema, etc. It is riddled with contaminants and has the potential to put people at greater harm due to medication interactions – even and most notably, CBD. Tax money is more than spent taking care of the harms. Here is a simple example of a SINGLE cannabis induced illness: cannabinoid induced hyperemesis (AKA – scromitting): our ED sees it on average at least daily, maybe more. The cost of an ED visit, with medications, with facility fees, its, etc is about 6500 dollars. 1 visit once a day for 1 year at 1 hospital – billing is over 2.3 million dollars. Here in our community, the majority of patients with this diagnosis are on medicaid. Who pays for that? The tax payer. There is no way that the taxes collected will cover the harms. Then add the costs for the other medical problems happening: psychosis, depression, anxiety, addiction, lung problems, etc and you can see that the costs will far exceed the tax revenue. The taxes collected will NOT cover the costs of harms. It is not different for alcohol or cigarettes. Why would you think pot would be different? Please feel free to google these issues – there is plenty of literature to back up my statements. Where is your literature? Please provide me copies of your literature.

      • you ask for ‘literature’. but where’s yours? literature includes romance novels and kids books. Let’s focus on data, statistics, and studies. and not opinion blogs.. You insist that he expand his horizons when you keep staring at an old viewpoint. Although that viewpoint has only been around for 70 years in the US. Compared to the three thousand years prior in which marijuana has been considered a medicine.. How often exactly do you think marijuana contamination occurs in states where strict lab testing is required? And how about if it was illegal and was instead bought off the street? Which would be worse. And why are you even discussing homelessness, DUIs, and incarcerations? Is marijuana the cause of all Colorado’s problems now?