Organizations team up to offer virtual discussion about impact of marijuana

Published 7:30 am Friday, April 29, 2022

CASS COUNTY — With recreational marijuana usage in Michigan still in its early stages, parents and citizens of Cass County looking for information are being given the opportunity to learn more, thanks to local groups.

The CASS Coalition, alongside the Cass County Great Start Collaborative and Michiana Health Center, are hosting a “Mothers, Minors, Marijuana, and Mental Illness” presentation to highlight the mental health issues that can affect women and children when it comes to marijuana use in the home. The presentation will be presented digitally through Zoom with one hundred seats available from noon to 3 p.m. on May 5.

“Whenever you have addiction in a family, regardless of all other circumstances, there is some level of neglect, some level of abuse,” said EJ McAndrews, chair of the CASS Coalition. “We’re bringing marijuana into the mix because people are least aware of that.”

The annual event is presented every spring, often as part of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, to provide greater understanding of the ever-changing role that marijuana is making on the families in Michigan. This is presented understanding that marijuana has been legalized in Michigan since 2018, and how the choices that parents make in using marijuana can still present problems for their children.

“I’ve had people ask us why we are choosing marijuana,” said Anna Carter, collaborative director of the Great Start Collaborative. “It’s legal now, but so is alcohol and tobacco. Just because something is made legal doesn’t mean the effects go away.”

Mothers are the particular focus when it comes to the parental side of the discussion and how women are targeted by the marijuana industry. Dr. Latisha Bader will act as a guest speaker on the subject. Serving as an expert for the Speakers Bureau of the National Marijuana Initiative and Chief Clinical Officer for the Women’s Recovery program, Bader’s will be presenting at the event for the first time to address this connection.

The message of the presentation is not solely meant to present blame to parents who use the drug. The focus is instead on educating on the negative impact that children could have when interacting with drugs, even legal ones, and how.

“We recognize that it’s legal and we recognize there are people who are going to use marijuana recreationally,” McAndrews said. “We want them to be aware of what could be a consequence that is not on their radar.”

Parents are not the only part of the equation, however, as the event is also open to members of the community who tackle these issues alongside them.

“We’re talking about educators, social workers, those who work in domestic violence situations,” Carter. “We are talking about the whole gamut of people who are working with families and we are informing them.”

In addition to Dr. Bader, Marla Godette will also be acting as a guest speaker for the event. Founder of Mentoring Moments, Godette specializes in the training of organizations that tackle social work and keeping them informed on the various kinds of issues they have to tackle, including drug related cases. She will be providing information to help further educate this side of the community in order to provide the kind of help children and families need in these kinds of cases.