Everyone has heard the saying, Monkey see… monkey do! It’s no different with people. When kids and teens in Craig see adults smoking marijuana, they want to try it as well. When they hear adults talk about it with laughter and smiles, their minds and spirits become curious, and they take their first step into the world of illegal drugs.
On August 8 and 9, the Alleghany Highlands Drug and Gang Task Force conducted marijuana eradication in Craig County. “The combined effort resulted in the seizure of 350 marijuana plants,” Sheriff Trevor Cradock of Craig County shared.
The Task Force is comprised of members from the Alleghany County Sheriff’s Office, Bath County Sheriff’s Office, Craig County Sheriff’s Office, the Covington Police Department and the Virginia State Police.
“Unfortunately drug use is on the rise and Craig County is not immune to the problem,” Sheriff Craddock said. “Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia and the Sheriff’s department comes into contact with it regularly.”
Drugfree.org states that 90 percent of all additions start in the teen years. Drugfreeworld.org also lists the short and long term effects of marijuana.
Some short term effects include: short term memory problems, severe anxiety (including fear that one is being watched or followed – paranoia), very strange behavior, seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there, not being able to tell imagination from reality (psychosis), panic, hallucinations, loss of sense of personal identity, lowered reaction time, increased risk of heart attack or stroke, problems with coordination, sexual problems (for males) and seven times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections than non-users (for females).
Other long term effects include; decline in IQ (up to eight points if prolonged use started in adolescent age), poor school performance and higher chance of dropping out, impaired thinking and ability to learn and perform complex tasks, lower life satisfaction, addition (about nine percent of adults and 17 percent of people who start smoking as teens), potential development of opiate abuse, relationship problems (intimate partner violence), antisocial behavior including stealing money or lying, financial difficulties, increased welfare dependence and great chances of being unemployed or not getting good jobs.
Other side effects are listed on Quitsmokingcommunity.org. They state that the most common and obvious are bloodshot eyes and dry mouth. “That’s why you see most users carry eye washing products and mouth wash,” the sheriff said.
One teen (not from Craig), was asked why he started smoking and he was honest with his response. “I started using it on a dare from my best friend who said that I was too chicken to smoke a joint and drink a quart of beer. I was fourteen at the time. After seven years of using and drinking, I found myself at the end of the road with addiction. I was no longer using to feel euphoria; I was just using to feel some semblance of normality. I started having negative feelings about myself, was suspicious of everyone and couldn’t trust my friends. I felt alone inside. I’d wake up in the morning and start using and keep using throughout the day. It became my best friend.”
The officers in Craig agree with the school staff that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ to other types of use as well. “Members of the Sheriff’s Office have spoken to people incarcerated for drug use and some of them relate to us that marijuana was a gateway drug for them to try other types,” one shared. Another founding fact is that marijuana has four times more tar than tobacco.
People have actually admitted to smoking marijuana while driving. “It has been my experience that people do smoke it and drive which is illegal and can cost other people their lives,” another shared.
The goal of the Sheriff’s Department is to keep the teens and citizens as safe as possible in Craig County. “I feel that it is bad for our youth,” Sheriff Craddock shared. “It leads to them wanting to try other drugs and also to do things that they might not normally do.”
Craddock and the Task Force shared that they encourage the community of Craig County to work together to keep it safe. “We appreciate any and all tips the citizens can report to us,” he said.