Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School junior Brody Hooper leads the walk during the Rally to Ban K2 in Elizabethtown April 30. Eight schools took part in the event.
When Brody Hooper started his campaign against synthetic pot, he hoped it would come to this.
Hooper, a junior at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, looked out over the hundreds of students gathered at the Essex County Government Center to rally against the sale and use of substances like K2 and Spice.
“I was not sure what would come from the meetings and the trips to schools, but I was hoping for something like this to happen,” Hooper said. “This is about getting students from all of these different schools together to get a final resolution to this problem.”
Hooper said that there has been a lot of positive feedback from the presentations that he has made in almost every school in Essex County about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.
“There have been a lot of similarities between what I have seen at my school and the others we have been to,” Hooper said. “Kids come up after and tell me similar experiences and hopefully there are a lot of people that have been benefiting from my presentation.”
Hooper and peers from Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School joined with students from Westport, Willsboro, Schroon Lake, Keene, Moriah, Crown Point and Ticonderoga at the rally, which included a walk and presentations by the BEST Committee, the District Attorney’s office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and the Prevention Team.
“We got something started,” said Hooper about the partnership. “Now, it will hopefully end with a law banning this substance in New York.”
Willsboro student Sam Politi also spoke at the event, saying that he had seen friends affected by the substance.
“It’s a poison,” Politi said. “I have witnessed friends seize up and foam at the mouth because of trying K2. We cannot let K2 jeopardize our lives and it is our generation that will enact the change that is required.”
The students also heard from Sarah Sandberg, a former ELCS student who was one of the first to publicly talk about her experience with the substance.
“I really do not want to see anyone else have that happen to them and get hurt the way that I did,” Sandberg said.
Hooper added that he hoped their message would be heard in Albany.
“Let’s get Chairman (Randy) Douglas to get our petitions down to Albany and see where they take it from there,” he said.
During the rally, Sheriff Richard Cutting read noted from people who had tried K2 and suffered serious side effects and near-death situations.
District Attorney Kristy Sprague also addressed the crowd, giving credit to the youth and organizations that made Essex County a leader in the fight against synthetic marijuana.
“Our small meeting back in February exploded into a movement that has been recognized at the state level and by the federal Attorney General’s office," Sprague said. “There is a lot of credit that has to go to those who have been working consistently from the beginning to get this banned. We need to address these issues before they reach epidemic levels, and these people have done that.”
The rally included a walk around Elizabethtown and a lunch for students at the County Government Center, with food being donated by businesses and an anonymous donor.