Statewide marijuana conference underway - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Statewide marijuana conference underway in Virginia

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

The statewide marijuana conference is the first of its kind in Virginia, comprised of people who have concerns about the legalization of marijuana.

"The drug legalization efforts now are causing drug use to go back up," said Monte Stiles, a Retired Federal Drug Prosecutor.

The conference is hosted by SAFE, a group that fights substance abuse among youth locally. SAFE says it has data to back up those concerns. 

"We found out that more of our youth were smoking marijuana than cigarettes," said Regina Whitsett with SAFE. "And they said that marijuana was easier to get than cigarettes or alcohol."

Survey results look at responses from students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade. It also finds students believe their peers and parents have lower disapproval rates of marijuana use than two years ago. 

Stiles says these results are especially alarming, given the age range. 

"When youth use marijuana, the incidents of addiction is much higher," said Stiles. "And when peoples brains are developing when they're 12-13 to age 20-25, that's when marijuana has the most impact on brain development," impacting things like IQ, learning, memory, and judgement.

Right now, several anti-legalization groups are talking about it at the conference.  

Those in favor of legalizing marijuana argue that medically, it can stop seizures, increase quality of life, and decrease pain.

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