OSSINING, N.Y. – Alice Joselow hopes Ossining teens don’t take away the wrong idea from recent measures passed in Colorado and Washington that legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Joselow, the coordinator for Ossining Communities That Care, and dozens of Ossining local leaders are teaming up to get the message out to local teens that marijuana remains illegal in New York.
Roughly 20 leaders, including Ossining government, police and school officials, met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the idea of a new campaign targeted at teenagers that will raise awareness of the harmful effects of marijuana.
Joselow reminded community members of a 2011 survey in Ossining which found that more than 85 percent of Ossining teens said they had not smoked marijuana.
“We recognize that a majority of our kids are not involved in smoking marijuana," Joselow said following the meeting. "However, we see at the national level the trend towards legalizing medical marijuana, as well as unfortunately, the legalizing of small amounts in Colorado and Washington. We want to work against that trend. We believe that marijuana should only be made legal as a drug by the FDA.”
Joselow added that the survey also showed students’ perception of harm from marijuana fluctuates as they go through high school and usage tends to increase. Ossining School Board President Bill Kress said he was pleased that local usage was lower than nationwide averages that hovered around 20 percent.
"The good news is, not as many of our teens use marijuana as the rest of the country," Kress said. "I think we'll step up and make an effort to reduce our usage to an even lower number, and I have confidence that CTC will keep doing this until we find something that works."
Ossining Mayor William Hanauer, who attended the meeting, said the group may have a difficult road ahead in trying to find a campaign that will get students’ attention.
“It’s a very difficult thing to get it out there in a manner that will reach them,” Hanauer said. “I think you can send out a text, but it’s not easy to get that much material in so few characters. I think you can post a message on Facebook, but they need to go there and see it. And then there’s the question of: will it have any impact on them? It’s not going to be easy.”
Hanauer added that he did not see New York passing any legislation similar to Washington and Colorado any time soon.
“I think we’re a ways away from that happening in New York,” he said.