As the number of incidents involving e-cigarettes, or vaping, and edible marijuana, or THC gummies, rises among elementary through high school students nationwide, some local schools are calling on the St. John Sheriff’s Office to help spread the word about the potential risks associated with these products.

While this may not be a huge problem at this time in St. John Parish, there is concern, Sheriff Mike Tregre said. That’s why the SJSO and officials at Emily C. Watkins Elementary held an assembly March 8, 2023 to inform students of the dangers of vaping and ingesting THC gummies.

Sheriff Tregre and Narcotics Supervisor Lt. Brian Schum spoke to fifth through eighth grade students during the assembly.

Lt. Schum shared some facts about the addictiveness of nicotine and the chemical toxicity of e-liquids, including THC. These chemicals can harm the developing brain of an adolescent as well as lead to lung injury and other illnesses.

Even though marijuana-laced gummies look like harmless candy, eating these substances can be dangerous for children, Lt. Schum said. Some of the side effects are panic attacks, breathing difficulty, dizziness, weakness, nausea, seizures, and hallucinations.

Lt. Schum advised students to never take substances from other people including food or snacks, especially if they are unsure of the item.

Sheriff Tregre told students that they are the ones who are in control of their lives. And, they can do whatever they want – make the right choices and succeed in life – or make poor decisions and face consequences. He also told the students they can always call on him for support.