A new after-school program aims to educate kids about cannabis and its impacts, and those behind the program say it’s needed now that the legal marijuana market is up and running in New York City.
At P.S./I.S. 218 Rafael Hernandez Dual Language Magnet School, most students leave for the day right when the bell rings. However, some curious students fill a classroom after their classes to learn more about cannabis.
The group of seventh graders are enrolled in WHEDCO’s after-school programming, which is currently running at three Bronx school campuses. Part of it is “Just Ask Me” – or JAM – sessions, to create a safe space to talk about certain taboo topics, like sexual education and most recently marijuana, which has been added to the program’s curriculum for sixth- through eighth graders.
This roll-out is years in the making and aligns with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in New York City.
High school senior Aaliyah Cruz, a WHEDCO after-school alumnus, now works with current students in the program serving as a peer mentor.
“I think that it’s good that they show us these kinds of things,” said Cruz. “Even though now it’s more accessible and legal, I think that we should use that ‘advantage’ wisely.”
While this course on cannabis just launched, the director of the program is already looking to add a course on TikTok in the future.