A free public panel discussion was organized by the Ottawa Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to address the growing problem of marijuana use in Northwest Ottawa County especially among teens. The discussion held at the Grand Haven 9 Theater was attended by about 60 parents and educators from Muskegon, Holland, and Tri-Cities.
Panelists during the forum included police officials, school authorities, parents, and students that were all determined to help put a stop to drug abuse problems in their area. Sgt. Glenn Bo from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety was joined by Deputy Sara Fillman of the Sheriff’s Office in Ottawa County, Cynthia Spielmaker from tha 20th Circuit Court/Juvenile Services, Karen Miedema of the Ottawa County Prosecutor’s Office, and some parents and students who volunteered to share their experiences with drug abuse.
Stephanie VanDerKooi from the Ottawa County Health Department said that kids today have easy access to dangerous drugs. From the latest survey made, they listed alcohol as the top choice of drug among high school students. Marijuana came in at second while synthetic marijuana (K2 or Spice) climbed at the third place. Completing the top five from the list are tobacco at fourth and prescription drugs at fifth place.
From the list of prescribed medications, Adderall, Ritalin, and Vicodin have been favored by citizens in Northwest Ottawa County.
“The big problem is, it’s (drugs) more potent than ever — but kids are looking at it like it’s no big deal,” Miedema said. “And it’s getting expensive — but, somehow, kids are getting the money.”