During RISE Drug Free MKE’s needs assessments, we have determined that marijuana use continues to be a negative factor in the lives of our community’s youth. While the vast majority of Milwaukee County middle and high school students say they have not used marijuana in the past 30 days, the fact is that many adolescents have a benign or beneficial view of marijuana. When we surveyed students in the 53206 zip code and asked why youth used marijuana, the top replies were “to deal with anxiety,” “to numb pain from trauma,” “to deal with loss,” and “stop suicidal thoughts.”
But using marijuana during the teen years creates many negative consequences for brain and emotional development, the ability to get a job or a college scholarship, or simply to pursue one’s life goals. RISE Drug Free MKE believes that arming youth with facts about marijuana, and providing them with options and the motivation to reject it, are the best ways to allow youth to feel empowered and confident about their decision making while creating a path to a successful future.
RISE Drug Free MKE focuses on youth marijuana use in these ways:
- The federal 53206 Drug-Free Communities and Partnerships for Success-19 grants, specifically focus on youth marijuana use as one of their substances of focus.
- RISE Drug Free MKE sponsors and supports annual Youth Summits that make attendees aware of the harms posed by marijuana use and encourage them to find natural and effective ways to cope with stress and anxiety.
- RISE Drug Free MKE youth created artwork used in the Let’s Be Blunt campaigns, which ran on Milwaukee County Transit System buses to promote a weed-free youth lifestyle.
- RISE Drug Free MKE/MCSAP created the Just Like You campaign to encourage parents to talk to their kids about marijuana and pledge to never use weed around them
- The 53206 Drug Free Communities Project regularly surveys city youth on their use of and attitudes toward marijuana so that we are using the best, most accurate, and relevant data to guide our work