Category Archives: Environment

[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

Pic Of The Day #774

There’s plenty of life in Willowbrook Cemetery. Officials there proudly announce 2 new additions.

(Photo/Danny Amoruccio)

Born Wednesday in Section 11,  the twins and their mother are healthy and roaming the grounds.

But it wasn’t easy. Cemetery manager Danny Amoruccio reports that as workers dug a grave for the burial, the mother walked over — and gave birth right there to 2 fawns.

But she got scared and fled — leaving one behind. After nearly falling into the grave, it became attached to Danny. It followed him everywhere.

Willowbrook officials called Animal Control. They quickly came, wrapped the newborn deer up, and walked it to the woods. The mother appeared immediately, and hustled it away.

The family has grown to 16. They now reside — happily and together — in undeveloped sections of the cemetery.

Some Westporters Are Worried Because They Haven’t Seen The Ospreys In A While

Wherever they’ve been — if they went anywhere — they’re back.

Carolyn Doan took these photos earlier today:

(Photos/Carolyn Doan)

Lookin’ good!

Photo Challenge #230

Last week’s Photo Challenge was straightforward.

Molly Alger’s image showed a handsome stone pillar. It’s flanked by a road on one side, and a long, hilly driveway on the other. (Click here to see.)

Westporters drive by it all the time. It’s on South Compo Road, near Park Lane.

Many folks don’t know, though, that it’s the main entrance to Baron’s South.

We — as a town — own that great 22-acre property between South Compo and Imperial Avenue. It’s open sunrise to sunset. Now you know how to get into it.

Andrew Colabella, Seth Braunstein, Jonathan McClure and Amy Schneider already know. They correctly answered last week’s Photo Challenge.

Today’s Challenge honors the many Westporters who have given their lives, while serving our country. If you know where you’d see this inspiring plaque, click “Comments” below.

HINT: It’s NOT at Veteran’s Green, opposite Town Hall. But you should go there tomorrow, immediately after the Memorial Day parade. The brief ceremony is moving, and important. And there you’ll see many plaques with the names of Westporters killed in action. But not this one.

(Photo/Jay Dirnberger)

Pics Of The Day #766

It looks pastoral.

But beware of poison ivy, at places like Gray’s Creek …

… and Winslow Park, by the Westport Country Playhouse.

(Photos/Tracy Porosoff)

Bear With Us: The Sequel

Earlier today, “06880” posted news of a bear sighting on North Avenue — along with tips of what to do (and not do) if a bear is near.

A couple of hours later, this bear was spotted on Hermit Lane — a few miles away, near Wilton Road.

(Photo/Alec Shutze)

The same one? A different one?

We’re not sure.

But click here if you need a reminder of how to act if you see a bear.

Or more.

Bear With Us

The Westport Police report that around 8:30 this morning, a North Avenue resident reported a black bear on his property. Officers tracked it to the area of 300 North Avenue and Tuck Lane.

The bear was not acting aggressively. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division was notified.

Police note that black bears are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut. Residents should take precautions to prevent negative encounters with bears and nuisance behavior.

In 2013, Cablevision News12 aired this dramatic shot of a black bear in Westport.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell. Secure garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding.

If you compost, do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily or sweet materials in the compost pile. These foods attract bears and other animals.

Clean barbecues and grills after each use. Do not leave pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer.

Keep an eye on pets and small children playing outside.

If you see a bear, do not approach it. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas.

Sightings can be reported to Westport Animal Control (203-341-5076).  For more information on bears, click here.

Pic Of The Day #764

Tim Fielding says: “This fella made it across North Avenue onto my property yesterday. He seems to have come from the wetlands by the Aquarion water tanks, and is heading toward the ones in back of Staples. Very purposeful and surprisingly mobile!”

Farmers’ Market Sprouts Thursday

The Westport Farmers’ Market did not exactly have humble beginnings.

Fourteen years ago Paul Newman and his sidekick, Michel Nischan — the chef and co-ownwer of Newman’s Dressing Room restaurant —  opened the market in the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot.

Newman’s name, Nischan’s passion — and the growing popularity of farmers’ markets — ensured a variety of vendors, and good crowds, from the start.

But now the Westport Farmers’ Market is really cooking.

It quickly outgrew its Playhouse home. The market moved to the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot, just below the Westport Woman’s Club. There’s plenty of room, plenty of parking — and plenty to see, do and buy.

The Westport Farmers’ Market appeals to all ages. (Photo/Margaret Kraus)

When the new season opens this Thursday (May 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), longtime market goers and eager newcomers will enjoy nearly 50 vendors, food trucks, chef demonstrations, children’s activities, music and more.

Offerings range far beyond fresh fruits and vegetables, to organic meat, seafood, bread, baked goods, coffee and tea (and kombucha), ice cream, honey and empanadas.

The most popular lunch trucks — pizza and Mexican food — are back too.

This year’s highlights include the Chef at the Market competition; Get Growing, the kids’ activity program, and more lunch seating than ever.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is not just a place to stock up on great, healthy food.

It’s a destination.

Somewhere, Paul Newman is smiling.

(For more information on the Westport Farmers’ Market, click here.)

Dog Fest At Winslow: Such A Fine Sight To See

Fairfield has its Dogwood Festival.

The trees are pretty, sure. But they just kind of sit there.

Westport’s Dog Festival, by contrast, fills Winslow Park with action.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes enjoy an obstacle course, competitions, treats from vendors, and chances to meet other dogs from all over the area.

Their owners — all of all shapes and sizes — have an equally good time.

Up to 4,000 people were predicted to attend the event, sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of  Commerce. Nearly every one seemed leashed to a dog.

There’s plenty of room for all. And plenty of time: It’s on until 4 p.m.

Bow wow!

 

Owners got a chance to show their dogs how to run the obstacle course. This guy took the offer literally.

Some of the dogs at today’s festival are stuffed.

One of the Festival exhibitors is a dog photographer.

… while another offers an only-in-Westport service. (Photos/Dan Woog)