We Have a New Challenge!
As a society, we still struggle with the misuse of legal opioids, wreaking havoc among too many parents of our students. Now, we at L.E.A.D. and collaborating educators have a new challenge—the impact of the legalization of recreational use of another dangerous substance. Whatever the debate about legalization of marijuana and related social justice issues, we need to focus on what is best for the children of this state and the students at our schools. Research shows the alarming impact of marijuana on school performance, dropout rates, youth referrals to emergency rooms, and youth availability of cannabis products. Data from Colorado and other legalized states demonstrate a significant lessening of the perception of cannabis harm, a powerful precursor to probable use.
The harms of cannabis products, including smoked, vaped or eaten marijuana, hashish, oils and concentrated extracts, are caused by an included chemical—Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Most New Jersey parents do not understand how THC can disrupt brain chemistry and the endocannabinoid system, leading to psychiatric disorders, problems with cognitive performance, serious lapses in judgment, impaired memory, and even dependency.
Unfortunately, legalized cannabis and its subsequent marketing will attract students in the same way as have tobacco and alcohol. Because of public and parental ignorance about the risks of THC on the young, schools must help fill the knowledge gap.
L.E.A.D. has worked closely with NJASA on this issue. Indeed, Dr. Richard Bozza, Executive Director of NJASA helped launch L.E.A.D. and its K-12 evidence-based curricula for adoption by schools in the Garden State. With our collaborating law enforcement officer-instructors, along with school administrators, Dr. Bozza encouraged the robust inclusion of cannabis education in the curricula. One finding from a recent independent evaluation of L.E.A.D.s NJDOE Drug Abuse Education Fund grant showed that 91% of sixth grade students reported knowing the harms of marijuana after exposure to the L.E.A.D. classes (a highly significant change from the pre-test). Three times as many students “could tell someone the difference between opioids and THC” from pre to post-test.
Even as schools are pressed for instructional hours, NJASA has been a powerful force in helping to assure that evidence-based and scientifically validated instruction has been available to help prevent the misuse of dangerous substances. L.E.A.D. will be expanding efforts to prevent decrements in academic performance and personal health associated with cannabis use by our students. With assist from NJASA, L.E.A.D. will also assist efforts in public awareness, community education, and parental guidance. Together, we can help inoculate students vulnerable to false perceptions surrounding marijuana. It will be a relief for families and communities to know that schools are helping their children understand cannabis harms and attain the skills necessary to resist peer pressure and commit to a drug-free future.
We are enormously proud of our relationship with NJASA and one of the main reasons that L.E.A.D. is the largest school-based drug & violence prevention program taught in the Garden State. In foresight one of the reasons why L.E.A.D. with the assistance of Dr. Richard Bozza of your organization, was organized and developed, was in preparation of possible issue of legalization of cannabis in New Jersey.
Why? The L.E.A.D. organization offers the only K-12 tested proven effective curricula for drug prevention that includes Cannabis prevention education in the state of New Jersey. It is most important there are other initiatives that are either not evidence based, not tested, and do not include cannabis issues directly affecting youth.
Cannabis prevention education must be part of evidence-based tested curricula. Good news for all of you is that we have been serving most districts in New Jersey for the past four years and are here to serve all districts. L.E.A.D. is a 501(3)C charitable organization designed to serve school districts in conjunction with police departments throughout the United States. This type of service is exactly what police departments need to be doing to demonstrate their commitment to serving all regardless of race, color, or ethnicity. Because of this major issue affecting our schools and communities we are reducing costs for training as a charitable service.
Note: L.E.A.D. has been serving many school districts in New Jersey for the past four years and is ready to serve all districts. L.E.A.D. is a 501(3) C charitable organization designed to serve school districts in conjunction with police departments throughout the United States. We combine the best elements of community policing and proven instructional practices, with a training program that is extremely cost-effective. Please reach out to L.E.A.D. at 609-259-2500 or visit our website at www.leadrugs.org.