High times with bad consequences

LUSK – Every community has its hurts, paint, busted up feelings, and toxic ways of coping. Ben Cort, a marketing expert who specializes in the addiction treatment, education and advocacy industries, acknowledges this before he dives right into his message to students and the community members which is that marijuana doesn’t solve the issues of individuals or communities. Marijuana can’t fund its way into being a positive solution for adults or children, and the marijuana on the market today can’t be compared to that which many adults affiliate with White Castle or Cheech and Chong. His presentation was sponsored by the Niobrara Prevention Coalition.

Cort comes to the point of his presentation in a circuitous way that allows audience members to see something about themselves in his story whether at 12 year old seventh grader or a 45 year old law enforcement officer. He makes connections through relating his own experiences with social anxieties, ADD, and a major depressive disorder which resulted in his own struggles with addiction and substance abuse. 

Many individuals would identify with Cort’s desire to shut his brain down and numb his feelings. Getting high, drunk or a combination resulted in the desired affect and ultimately, a path of self destruction. After getting clean and sober in 1996 he began working in human resources. By the age of 27 he left his career to help found Phoenix Multi-sport an organization that provides pro-social activities that are primarily athletic in nature to those living sober lives.

Through all of his work he has traveled the country consulting and educating on youth addiction and helps run a recovery center in Colorado. His knowledge base comes from a lot of industry research and hands-on experience with the marijuana industry.

Much of Cort’s message to the students wasn’t about drugs and alcohol but about the root of addiction and mental/emotional health. He emphasized the importance of checking in with each other and making sure your peers are doing well. Cort commended the individuals that manage to graduate high school or even college without doing substances since in his opinion that is by far much more difficult that hiding behind parties and being under the influence.

A large part of what Cort wants his audience to take away is the necessity of understanding that the marijuana on today’s market, especially the products coming out of the Colorado market. In Cort’s experience the marijuana is created for one thing, to sell. Driving consumer demand is the increase in strength of marijuana THC which results in a lack of balance between THC and CBD. The current market marijuana in Colorado does lead to addiction as evidenced by the existence of withdrawal symptoms in individuals that attend Cort’s addiction recovery facility in Steamboat. 

He also cites the addition of “cannabis withdrawal” in medical dictionaries and terminology which indicates that the medical establishment is beginning to acknowledge the additive properties of new cannabis. Cost acknowledges the role that CBD and even full marijuana can play in the medical community but emphasizes that the limited number of physicians effectively prescribing marijuana is also limited.

At the end of the day, Cort’s message is specific and to the point. Kids, don’t engage in any substance use before your brain is fully developed. Use after the age of maturity (between 22 and 25) is less likely to result in addiction or neurological impact. While 10% of the general population is genetically inclined to addiction and avoidance of substances can help them prevent future issues. Dealing with their emotional and mental health problems in healthy ways including finding a safe person to talk to (not always an adult) can start them on the path of healing and health instead of down the more treacherous of addiction and masking with substances. 

Cort then opened the floor to questions from the audience with the request that everyone be respectful and listen well. He was conscientious about not ever speaking “down” to his youth audience. He was casual but earnest in his presentation. Using a combination of humor and science Cort often worked to make sure that his audience took away some main points from his presentation and that they should learn to support each other and check in with peers and trusted adults. 

For questions or to find out more about Ben Cort he has a website, cortconsult.com. Other questions about prevention efforts or what the Niobrara County Prevention Coalition can contact prevention specialist Katie Krein.


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