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Local Magistrates Notice Increase in Underage Drinking, Marijuana Use

District Judges Robert Wyda and Blaise Larotonda say the problem often begins at home.

There appears to be an increase in underage drinking and marijuana use in the South Hills, according to District Judges Robert Wyda and Blaise Larotonda.

The local magistrates addressed the problems they see in the Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon communities during "Straight Talk" Wednesday night—a meeting organized by the Upper St. Clair Youth Steering Committee and the Together in Parenting (TIP) committee of the PTA Council.

Larotonda said there has been a sharp increase of underage drinking cases in his courtroom in the last six or seven months.

Wyda said he's seen evidence of an increase of marijuana use in his courtroom, especially among freshman and sophomore girls.

And he said the vote to legalize pot in Colorado and Washington on Election Day does not help the problem.

"I see it (marijuana abuse) becoming more of a societal trend," he said. "I'm absolutely against it (the legalization of marijuana). It's devastating for young people to get involved with drugs, even if it's marijuana. It's so destructive in so many ways. And I feel very strongly about that."

Larotonda agreed and referred to the Mt. Lebanon mother who was hit by a vehicle driven by a young man high on marijuana.

"Tell them (her family) they (the government) should legalize it (marijuana)," he said.

Wyda warned parents and students that police use Facebook photos for evidence in his courtroom. In a recent case, there was a parent in the background of the photo smiling as students were taking part in illegal activity.

Wyda and Larotonda stressed the importance of good and tough parenting.

"First and foremost, we have to fight this battle at home," Wyda said. "We (parents) have to be savvy. We have to be smart."

U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak, of Upper St. Clair, provided a federal view to the meeting. He said the prevalence of addiction and presence of weapons has surprised him.

He said he thinks local, young people buying drugs might not realize how close they are to danger.

"The risk I see is that young people start playing in a league they can't get out of," he said.

"You'll get shot for a $20 debt (nowadays)," added Tim Grealish, a drug and treatment specialist for TEG, LLC.

However the meeting ended on a positive note. Wyda and Larotonda said that they believe the majority of the youth in the South Hills are staying away from the illegal behaviors.

william atwell November 15, 2012 at 01:07 PM
I can hear people now can't be happening in Upper St Clair. I have heard this so much that their is not a drug or booze problem in the township! Wake up people
Jason Bahr November 15, 2012 at 01:40 PM
What they did in Colorado only makes the job of being a parent only that much harder. We are watching a national tragedy unfold right before our very eyes with what our youth is now accepting of as normal behavior.
B November 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
This has been a problem in Upper St. Clair, Bethel Park, Lebo and more for years... the only issue is that drinking and weed isn't the real problem. Those a childs games compared to the actual issues across the south hills.
Publius November 15, 2012 at 08:07 PM
I find it so very humorous that people use a drug, alcohol, in front of their kids for years but nobody seems to have a problem with it because alcohol is "legal" Keep in mind that "legal" is merely a designation by the government, not a statement of health benefits. I think most reasonable people could conclude that alcohol use and abuse is far more detrimental to our society than marijuana. I guess my point in this is our policy on drugs and alcohol is misleading and confusing to kids. Either get rid of alcohol, tobacco, and pot or allow people to use them. To allow the government to decide that some harmful behaviors are acceptable by society and others aren't is ludicrous, miss-guided, hypocritical, and confusing.
James November 15, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I couldn't have said it better myself......WAKE UP
James November 15, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Marijuana is a gateway drug Bryan. Put the bong down and pay attention to society.
Publius November 15, 2012 at 08:34 PM
@Wake up: Guess what else has been proven to be a gateway drug.....A..L..C..O..H..O..L Weed is no better or worse than booze. Both are gateway drugs. Both, when used irresponsibly or in excess can lead to problems. Only difference one is "legal" and the other is not.
dalio November 15, 2012 at 10:46 PM
@Wake up....How judgemental and disrespectful of you to comment to Bryan to "put the bong down"...How COWARDLY!..you know nothing about him, but yet the first thing you do is attack him. By the way, he is correct, the problem in the South Hills is so much more than marijuana!! @Publius you are correct, children learn what they live, how many parents think it is "OK" to get wasted drunk in front of their children....in the name of socializing!!
Guy Fawkes USC November 16, 2012 at 12:02 AM
The legalization of marijuana will decrease the underage use of the drug. It will be regulated by the government. There will be an age restriction to purchase the drug. The legalization of marijuana will instantaneously close down the black market for the drug. Drug dealers sell drugs with disregard to age restrictions. Whereas legitimate businesses will not risk fines/penalties for selling to underage individuals. I do not endorse drug use, I do not use drugs myself, but I can logically dissect the issue and see the cause/effects of the "War on drugs". It is ineffectual, and counterproductive to its stated cause.
James November 16, 2012 at 03:24 AM
#1 I've read many of Bryan's posts on this site and so I know his viewpoints on things regarding this community. #2 Apparently you are friends with him so I will assume you are just as snobby and stuck up. #3 I don't care about the South Hills....I care about Upper St. Clair, USC is the utopia of the Pittsburgh Area and has no problem at all with drugs and/or alcohol. Our kids mature at an earlier age than other communities and go on to be successful professionals.
Deb November 16, 2012 at 07:29 AM
Also, studies have shown that marijuana is not a "gateway drug". How many middle-aged people smoked and never did other drugs? Marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and just as alcohol should not be abused by adults or available to minors, the same is true for marijuana. Anyone commenting here a republican? How about the "less government" argument? Oh, I know - less government except for when we want more government - like in these types of issues. I have seen so much free-flowing alcohol in this township by adults, providing it to high-schoolers so they "will be drinking at home". As I found out after the fact, one of my children's friends had a parent that would collect cash from the kids and buy the alcohol for them. Yes in USC! Beware the high school sleepovers, these are where this happens. Parenting is hard, kids don't always listen, and Colorado's drug laws are not the reason your kid may smoke weed. Pennsylvania's alcohol laws did not stop them from drinking!
Roger November 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Guy, your argument sounds great. But, experience shows it does not work. For example, Oregon has a medical marijuana provision. In the past couple of years, the number of medical grower permits has skyrocketed. However, the growth of use has also skyrocketed, nearly all outside the permitted domain. Groves of plantations are found in forests, often managed by outsiders. A walk in the woods is no longer an adventure in enjoying nature, rather a risk of life and limb. Government resources to manage the permits is substantial because of all the abuse. Nobody is able to offer reasons why so many Oregonians have suddenly gone south on their health and need medical marijuana. Perhaps the most distressing part of the industry is that when stashes of marijuana are found on persons, or in homes, there is always heroin, cocaine, meth, or other much harder drugs on the scene. The notion that there is no gateway is easily refuted by the actions of those using marijuana. Science can be quoted all over the place, but experience and actions of others easily shoot down any idea of "no gateway." Also, homes that are raided are usually occupied by families with small children. What a wonderful way to raise a family --- NOT! I still await a good explanation on why people choose to indulge. Yes, "my body," "not your business," and other such offerings are made. These reasons fall apart quickly because nobody lives in a vacuum. Society pays the price of drug-heads.
WW November 16, 2012 at 02:25 PM
"I think most reasonable people could conclude that alcohol use and abuse is far more detrimental to our society than marijuana." 100% correct. You could also replace alcohol with prescription pills.
Guy Fawkes USC November 16, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Roger, You must take into account the blowback that is incurred by heavy draconian laws restricting marijuana's use. I understand that there is no perfect solution to drugs, but what I do know is that restrictive laws will NEVER prevent marijuana use; no matter how serious the punishments become. Study the prohibition of alcohol, and see what the effects were. Marijuana laws do more harm than good. They are ineffective to stopping use, they create black markets and organized crime, and they also cost the tax payers greatly. I would also like to comment on the "gateway drug idea". Marijuana does not cause a user to fiend for more intense drugs or a better high. It can be considered a gateway drug because of the network people create in purchasing it. The drug dealers often sell other drugs aside from marijuana, and people who smoke pot at a young age are often around other people who would be disposed to taking other drugs. Again at the end of the day I think it is best if the government stays out of our bodies. People that chose not to do drugs chose not to do them without regard for the law. They chose not to use them because drugs are really bad for you. If someone is dumb enough to use drugs only because they are "legal" they are probably too stupid to care for the law anyways. I understand the rebuttal "common good" argument, but I am not a bleeding heart. I believe it is a bad position for the government to believe they can control what we can put into our bodies.
Roger November 17, 2012 at 11:41 AM
As if being legal, makes using alcohol to excess and prescription drugs to excess an OK thing to do... Sorry, but the "me too" argument never works in these discussions.
Roger November 17, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Guy, those who administer rehab programs would disagree with your assessment about the gateway argument. Nobody is in a better position to understand the migration than these folks. I will take their assessment over any other argument any day of the week. Again, nobody is willing to come forth to explain why there is an interest in using marijuana in the first place. Yes, we hear the medical argument, and it may have validity. But, that is a very small sector of the user community -- the rest is all recreational, no matter what color the viewing lens. Rather than trying to promote ideas that leave our citizens with less clear heads, why not address the issue of why there is an interest? These discussions always assume that "everybody does it," or "it is just a matter of life." Both these assumptions are wrong. As for "less government," do you understand the reason for government?
Guy Fawkes USC November 18, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I have a hard time bestowing credibility upon organizations with a success rates <10%. I also understand what the intended role of American government should be. A government designed to protect its people from others transgressions. Drug usage is a victimless crime. The governments role is not to protect you from yourself. The role of government is not to create a more moral society, thats a preposterous notion; its never worked it never will work. That's what families, and churches are for. Governments are instituted to create stability and protect your rights from being infringed by others. Not to meddle in other peoples personal business. Were you a hall monitor as a child, or do you gossip? Why do you find it necessary to meddle in other peoples personal choices? Does it make you feel better to try to impose your will on others?
DanielBosh November 19, 2012 at 05:02 AM
It's a lot easier for a high school kid to get weed than it is to get alcohol. A lot easier. It's about as easy as going to giant eagle and buying milk. And it's probably a lot harder for them to get caught when they're high than when they are drunk. So legalize it, tax it, control it, keep it out of minors hands. It's not perfect, but it works a lot better than the system we have now. As for people over 21, I haven't really head a compelling reason that alcohol should be legal while marijuana is not. It's just all around safer an much less intoxicating.
DanielBosh November 19, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Coffee is a gateway drug.


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