Published on February 17th, 2021 | by Burlington Partnership0
Shamura Awayle’s Speech to VT Delegation at CADCA’s 2021 Leadership Conference
Shamura shared the speech below at meetings with staff in Senator Bernie Sanders’ Office, Senator Peter Leahy’s Office, and with Representative Peter Welsh in February 2021. She was part of a team of Vermont prevention advocates visiting as part of the 2021 National Leadership Forum for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.
Hi, I am Shamura Awayle, a student at Burlington High School.
In the coming year, retail cannabis will be sold in Vermont stores. This would directly challenge our progress with youth prevention. The community will find it difficult to handle what happens to kids seeing advertisements. Looking at the prevalence of Juul and vape use among Vermont children and children across the U.S, advertisement targeting youth is very effective. The sweet smell of vapor from e-cigarettes and the kid-friendly names that come with friendly scents is appealing to youth.
If these advertisement strategies can be applied to marijuana products (even through foods, and candies) children could be under the influence without anyone knowing. The normalization of products like these will make kids feel it is not so harmful.
What I hope people at the legislative level will do is prioritize policies that protect kids. Especially children living in minority communities. What we know now is that there are more alcohol and tobacco retailers in poorer Burlington communities. Minorities along with children have been targeted by this industry. We must ensure that we think about minorities who are heavily targeted in these communities.
I have been a member of the Above The Influence (ATI.BTV) group at Burlington High School for four years now and it has changed my life. Before joining ATI.BTV I was a very shy student. Being an active member of ATI has helped me break out of my shell and speak to people about the problems of substance abuse facing our community today. Thank you for your time.