Drug counselors fear recreational marijuana will impact children. Here’s what parents need to know.

Some drug counselors are worried about the effects marijuana will have on children with the availability of it increasing as New Jersey rolls out recreational dispensaries.

News 12 Staff

Apr 21, 2022, 11:45 AM

Updated 795 days ago

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Some drug counselors are worried about the effects marijuana will have on children with the availability of it increasing as New Jersey rolls out recreational dispensaries.
There are no recreational facilities operating yet in Monmouth or Ocean counties, but a drug counselor says instances where students have been found either under the influence or in possession are rising. 
“I have been in the addictions field for 30 years,” says Alysa Fornarotto-Regenye. “I have watched kid after kid after kids struggle with addiction to marijuana. That's consistently been the drug of choice.”
Alysa Fornarotto-Regenye has 30 years of experience in the field of addiction and serves as a school district student assistant counselor. Last summer, she spoke in Toms River to a council as the township debated whether to allow dispensaries. 
“You need clear and consistent rules – it's not about catching a kid. It’s truly creating innovative resources and strategies to help redirect a kid,” says Fornarotto-Regenye.
Statistics provided by the New Jersey Department of Education shows a nearly 100% increase in student usage and possession of marijuana in schools in the 2015/2016 school year. About 2,270 reports were logged of in-school marijuana violations statewide. The numbers jumped to 4,189 three years later.
“When you legalize a toxin like marijuana, you are lowering the perception of harm among adults and adolescents the same,” says Fornarotto-Regenye.
Fornarotto-Regenye says parents, educators and students need to discuss the effects of marijuana, the availability of it and potential hazards to young people.  
Fornarotto-Regenye says it's important for schools not to focus on just catching kids who are under the influence or found in possession. Parents and educators should provide resources and education in intervention.


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