By Straight Up Employee, Ashley Heatherly
How High Ventura County is an online resource from Ventura County Behavioral Health that addresses the growing need in Ventura County for facts to educate teens and their families about marijuana use. How High Ventura County is a health initiative designed to teach parents and youth that marijuana affects teens differently. From their website,
“It’s not about politics. It’s not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ usage of marijuana. It’s about uniting as adults to teach kids that this particular substance affects them differently and can lead to harmful outcomes. How High is dedicated not only to the science behind what happens when a teenager smokes weed, but also to the social science behind why teenagers begin to smoke weed.”
What makes the teenage brain different from all other brains? Why is Ventura County treating teens differently than other residents when it comes to marijuana? Is using marijuana really more dangerous if you’re a teenager? How High VC aims to answer these questions and focus on how marijuana affects the teenage brain differently than it affects adults. For example, I learned that using marijuana as a teenager can inhibit your IQ by 8 points, and can affect how your developing brain functions.
How High VC exists to give adults the data they need about weed, and the tools and tips they might need to help them begin that conversation with their teen. Their team of educators aims to help teach high school and middle school students about the harm to their health that marijuana can cause. Parents can learn the nuances of smoking, vaping, edibles, potency and wax (butane hash oil), many things that parents aren’t likely to know about.
The How High VC website offers a wealth of interactive ways to learn about marijuana use, attitudes, culture, and how and why teenagers use it. For example, they offer a “Marijuana and Identity” video series; a collection of terms and definitions about marijuana, methods of use, culture, music, movies, etc. called Weedology 101; an FAQ section where they invite Ventura County parents to ask and find answers to questions about marijuana, trends and the teenage brain, including definitions, history, legalities, harm, culture, local trends, and terms.
Studies have shown that parents who take an active interest in the daily life of their teen play a powerful role in reducing teen drug use. How High VC suggests, “Tonight at the dinner table, and in fact, every night at the dinner table, go deeper. Don’t just ask your teen ‘How was your day?’ Uncover what your teen is passionate about. Find out what they love. And help to support them achieve it.” The website offers not only marijuana facts and ways to talk to your teen, but help thinking of ways to unlock and support your teen’s passion, such as their “How High Passion Plan.”
Although How High VC almost exclusively focuses on information for parents about teenage use of marijuana, they recommend the Ventura County Limits website for questions about marijuana as it pertains to the +21 audience, particularly around issues such as marijuana and pregnancy, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, mental health issues, and/or the ability to harm oneself or others while under the influence of marijuana.
One of the most interactive features of How High VC is their “What’s your HighQ Quiz,” for parents to find out how much they know about marijuana use and attitudes.
I took the quiz and learned some startling facts:
- One in six teens who begin smoking weed will become dependent on marijuana. In fact, the number of Americans dependent on or abusing weed is more than twice the number dependent on or abusing prescription pain relievers and four times the number dependent on or abusing cocaine.
- Due to the fact that the teenage brain is still developing (and keeps developing until age 25 or 30), any interaction with marijuana can be harmful, even if a teen tries it just once. A teen who tries marijuana has a 1 in 6 chance of becoming addicted.
- A recent survey among Ventura County teens revealed that a majority of teens who smoke weed do it out of a need to “fit in.” Peer pressure isn’t just a dated term in a textbook. It’s a very real and potent thing that influences the decisions your teen makes.
- On average, a teenager who begins and continues heavily smoking marijuana may lose up to eight IQ points versus his or her peers.
- Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. It puts you, your passengers, other motorists and pedestrians in harm’s way. How much can a DUI in Ventura County cost you? First DUI Conviction: $15,649 in total fees. Plus: A criminal record, loss of driver’s license and 3+ years in jail if anyone is injured.
As you can see, How High Ventura County is an excellent resource with key information that can help parents overcome the communication breakdown that can happen with their kids when talking about drug use. For more information, visit How High Ventura County, How High Ventura County (Spanish), or Ventura County Limits.