WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Substance Abuse Coalition is hosting a dialogue called “Marijuana, Vape, and You” at St. Thomas Church in Wilmington on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. The event will feature a keynote speaker and a panel of professionals covering everything from legalization to the effects of media on marijuana and vape use.
Wilmington’s Substance Abuse Coalition aims to raise awareness of and prevent substance abuse through education. It’s made up of town representatives from schools, the Town Hall, the police and fire departments, veterans and elderly services, treatment facilities, the Board of Health, and residents.
The coalition was created in effect to create the position of Wilmington Substance Abuse Program Coordinator and hire Samantha Reif three years ago. It now serves the community by educating people about substance abuse and intertwining mental health issues.
As organizer and facilitator, Reif shared that the talk will start with keynote speaker Rick Cresta, LICSW. His portion will look at behavior and emotions that may be underlying substance use — why someone might use marijuana.
“He talks about the importance of finding alternatives and different avenues like behavioral changes,” Reif said.
Next will be a panel spanning the topics of marijuana and vaping legally, clinically, and health-wise. The panel will feature Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman; Wilmington Police Deputy Chief Brian Pupa; Tracey Rose-Tynes, MS, BSN, RN; and Josh Towbin, LICSW of MGH’s Addiction Recovery Management Services Program.
“Each panelist will have an amount of time to talk freely and give what they think is the most relevant information, like a Ted Talk,” Reif continued.
They’ll cover things like legalization and the status of marijuana and vaping; the effects of marijuana and vaping; and coping alternatives to marijuana and vape use. Finally, they’ll open the floor to questions for anyone on the panel or the keynote speaker.
The event is sponsored by the CHNA 15 Determination of Needs fund through Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, and the Cummings Community Givings Donation which the Wilmington Substance Abuse Coalition received over the holidays.
While it’s held at St. Thomas Church, the talk has no religious or spiritual affiliations. It’s free and open for anyone ages 12 and up.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a pretty broad topic so that someone at any age can walk away with something new,” Reif said.
On behalf of the coalition, Reif encourages any parent with a child planning to attend to join them.
“We want to make sure the conversations started from the event continue at home.”
For this reason, the Substance Abuse Coalition will have take-home resources for families with guided questions to take with them and use after the Jan. 23 talk.