Florence group launches marijuana use prevention campaign - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Florence group launches marijuana use prevention campaign

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Medical marijuana took a step forward in the legalization process in Columbia Thursday and on the same day Circle Park Behavioral Health Services and Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and Other Abuse Prevention launched a campaign against marijuana use.

The groups hosted a workshop Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Florence. A SLED agent presented on the dangers of today's marijuana even when legalized for medical purposes.

A Circle Park representative said it was not purposely scheduled for the same day as a meeting about Senate Bill 672.

On Thursday, the bill made it through a subcommittee for the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, which could now be meeting any time to discuss it. The bill calls for the legalization of medical marijuana in South Carolina.

Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler said he worries South Carolina could see issues similar to what other states that have legalized the drug have seen.

"Increases in motor vehicle accidents involving people who are under the influence of marijuana," he said. "Children and young adults who are now using marijuana at a more rapid rate. There are black market issues."

Circle Park also launched its first marijuana campaign Thursday, which involves a 30-second commercial warning of the effects of marijuana on the young brain. The campaign is designed to get parents to understand today's marijuana is more potent than it used to be and its use among teenagers needs to be taken seriously.

Florence School District One educates children about substance abuse, but it continues to be a consistent problems in the schools.

"Our school is a reflection of our community," Assistant Superintendent Randy Koon said. "We have marijuana issues in our community and we also have marijuana issues in our schools that we deal with."

Koon said if he had young children in school now, he'd start talking to them about marijuana as early as third or fourth grade.

"They're going to have that experience, 'Do I do it or not?' at some activity away from home early fifth or sixth grade," he said.

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