Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Parents and other community members concerned about the effect that the legalization of recreational marijuana is having on Missoula’s youth are invited to attend a presentation on Thursday evening at the Missoula Public Library.

I spoke with Leah Fitch Brody, Substance Use Disorder Prevention Coordinator with Missoula Public Health about concerning numbers on how young children are being affected.

A Meeting for Parents about Keeping Children Safe Since Legalization

“We have a local substance use prevention coalition here in Missoula,” began Fitch Brody. “We're called Healthy Missoula Youth. We have been looking into this issue for the past couple of years and have been really trying to monitor since adult use legalization had happened.”

Fitch Brody provided startling numbers about Missoula children who have been treated for cannabis poisoning and other incidents with marijuana.

She Referenced Rising Numbers of Hospital and Emergency Room Visits

“Youth hospitalizations and emergency room visits for cannabis use among youth ages zero to 14 have gone up 142 percent between 2016 and 2022,” she said. “That's according to the Montana Hospital Association, and then statewide, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for cannabis poisonings went up 200 percent between 2016 and 2022 and that's for youth ages zero to 17.”

Fitch Brody said the world of marijuana has changed dramatically since the 1970s, with increased potency and availability.

“There are also products that are concentrated,” she said. “They are basically chemically altered to have higher THC, and some products can get up to 99 percent THC, and so some of these products are vastly different from what they were years ago.”

Find More Details about the Meeting that Occurs on Thursday Evening

Fitch Brody provided more details about the meeting at the Missoula Public Library on Thursday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Cooper Room

“The event that we are having on Thursday is with Ben Cort,” she said. “He's an author who wrote Weed, Inc, the truth about THC, the pot lobby, and the commercial marijuana industry. He's also a recovery advocate who works with Smart Approaches to Marijuana.”

Fitch Brody referenced a Healthy Missoula Youth media campaign recently launched called ‘Cann we Chat, equipping Parents to Talk with Teens about Cannabis’. She hopes that Missoula's parents and caregivers will be able to better communicate with children about the risks of using marijuana under the age of 18.

The event is cosponsored by the Montana Alliance of Prevention, Healthy Missoula Youth Coalition and the Western Montana Mental Health Center.

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