Pot, weed, grass, za-za, cheeba, the devil’s lettuce: by whatever name it’s called, marijuana is a temptation that most teens face daily. According to the Center for Disease Control, one half of all students grades 9 to 12 have reported using marijuana in some form (“Teen Substance Use & Risk,” Feb. 2020). Glorified in music and movies and easily accessible from friends and family members, marijuana was the latest topic for the Nevada-Utah Youth Ministries’ Courageous Conversation series.
The dialogue was hosted by teens Sophia Borba, Mako Chenyika, Mariel Chenyika, and Jeremiah Gray. It was facilitated by Pastor Neat Randriamialison, Young Adult Coordinator for Nevada-Utah Conference. “This is a taboo topic, but it’s a topic that our teens have wanted to talk about for a whole year,” shared Pastor Neat. “It’s a concern they identified, and we’re committed to creating a safe space to address topics that are relevant to our youth.”
The teens tackled tough questions such as: “At what age do most youth begin to have an awareness of marijuana?” “What leads youth to try marijuana?” “What prevents youth from using marijuana?” and “What impact does marijuana have on teens?” Fred King, an elder at the Ogden church and a licensed social worker who specializes in addictions counseling, served as a guest panelist to answer questions posed by youth. King addressed the impact of marijuana on the undeveloped brains of teens, the link between marijuana and mental illness, and the difference between recreational marijuana abuse and medical marijuana use.
“Conversations like these help teens feel like they are being heard and are a part of a caring community,” reflected Sophia Borba. “And when youth know that they are part of a community that accepts them just as they are and doesn’t judge or condemn them, then they don’t need marijuana to fit in.”
Follow Nevada-Utah Conference Youth & Young Adult Ministries to learn about our next Courageous Conversation: Instagram @NUYouthMin and NU YOUTH on YouTube.
By Darriel Hoy