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Raymond voters: No marijuana shops in our town

By Shawne K. Wickham New Hampshire Sunday News, Apr 17, 2021 Updated Apr 18, 2021

Town meeting voters in Raymond last month sent a message to any businesses that might someday want to manufacture, sell or promote marijuana products: You are not welcome here.

Residents narrowly approved two new zoning ordinances prohibiting commercial activities and signs related to marijuana. The southern New Hampshire town of about 10,000 residents is apparently the first community in the state to pass such a ban.

Town meeting voters in Meredith voted to table a similar article in 2020.

The Raymond vote came just weeks after a bill to legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older died in the House, leaving New Hampshire an island of prohibition surrounded by states that have legalized recreational use. But proponents of the ban said it was important to act even though recreational use is not legal here.

“This was really a very proactive prevention message that we were ahead of the game, trying to send a message to the state and to the government that the majority of people don’t want this in their community,” said Celeste Clark, executive director of Raymond Coalition for Youth, the prevention organization that drafted and promoted the two petition warrant articles.

Both articles were recommended by the town planning board.

The coalition organized a public awareness campaign, and members of its youth action group helped gather signatures for the warrant articles.

“We knew it was going to be a battle going in,” she said.

The proposals ignited a vigorous, sometimes rancorous, debate on social media, and the vote was close.

A ban on commercial signs depicting marijuana plants passed 638-547. An article to prohibit commercial activities, including cultivation, testing, manufacturing and retail businesses, passed 613-572.

Clark admits she was a bit surprised when both articles passed.

“I was biting my fingernails waiting for the results to come in,” she said. “It was quite a celebration.”

Jacci Reynolds, a sophomore at Raymond High School and a member of RCFY’s youth action group, said she’s proud that her town voted for the ban.

Jacci Reynolds, 16, is active in the Raymond Coalition For Youth, which successfully pushed for two warrant articles banning marijuana-related businesses and signs in town.

From Jacci Reynolds

“I was glad to see that a lot of parents are still concerned about these kinds of activities,” she said.

She’s not really worried about adult use, she said. “I’m concerned about how it’s going to impact our youth,” she said.

Allowing commercialization of marijuana “normalizes it more and it makes it less stigmatized for children,” Reynolds said. “Just like alcohol is so mainstream, so a lot of kids think it’s OK to have a beer.”

States that have legalized recreational use of marijuana typically allow local communities to decide whether to allow commercial activities. In some states, it’s an opt-in process; in others, marijuana-related businesses are allowed unless communities specifically vote to prohibit them.

The Raymond coalition wasn’t taking any chances. The town meeting vote bans any marijuana-related businesses by zoning ordinance if marijuana is ever legalized.

“We were trying to get ahead of the curve on that,” Clark said.

Last October, Vermont lawmakers voted to create a regulated cannabis market, and the state’s Republican governor, Phil Scott, let the measure become law without his signature.

Local communities have to opt in before such businesses are allowed, and 30% of tax revenues from commercial activities will go to education and prevention efforts.

Matt Simon, senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project, said his organization is fine with communities choosing to opt out of allowing retail activities.

“It’s important that legalization be a statewide policy,” Simon said. “When it comes to determining what businesses will operate, that traditionally has been a local decision.”

However, the group believes the default should be that commercial activity is legal and communities can vote to opt out if they choose, he said, as Raymond pre-emptively did.

“We would prefer it to be decided by voters rather than by a few prohibitionists who happen to be on the city council,” he said.

In neighboring Maine, Simon said, communities have to opt in to retail sales. “That’s part of why the rollout has been pretty slow in Maine,” he said.

Popular in polls

The Raymond coalition’s Clark said a lot of misinformation was circulating on social media in the weeks before town meeting.

Many residents seemed unaware that New Hampshire already has a therapeutic cannabis program — or that the state had decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2017, she said.

“One of the first things we hear a lot is that people are sitting in jail because of marijuana,” she said. “That’s just not true.”

She said correcting some of the misinformation was part of the impetus for the warrant articles.

“Obviously the first goal was to pass it and have the amendments on the books, but the second goal was to really raise awareness to the community about what the facts were,” Clark said.

“If we could walk away with that, we were going to walk away with a win.”

Two years ago, the Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found that more than two-thirds of respondents favor legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal recreational use.

While Democrats (78%) and independents (74%) were more likely to favor legalization, a majority of Republicans (56%) also supported it.

Of those who responded, 80% said if marijuana were legalized, they approved of it being sold at licensed retail outlets and taxed at levels similar to alcohol or tobacco.

Clark doesn’t believe such polls reflect what most people in New Hampshire support for their communities.

“Now we have this (vote in Raymond) to say the majority does not want this, at least in the one community that went to the voters and asked,” she said.

Possible backfire

The Marijuana Policy Project’s Simon contends that banning marijuana-related businesses can backfire.

After Prohibition was repealed, he said, many states continued to ban alcohol sales. There are still dry towns and counties in other parts of the country, he said.

“No big surprise, that’s where you still have a lot of moonshining and things that don’t exist in other places,” he said.

Simon offers the same argument when it comes to legalizing adult use of marijuana.

“If you want to maintain the illicit, unregulated market, ban retail sales and that will certainly help,” he said.

“The irony for me is the same people who argue against having a cannabis store in their town will make the argument: ‘See, legislation hasn’t eliminated the black market.’ Well, no, if people have to drive over an hour to get to the nearest retail store, they’re going to continue doing what they’ve been doing,” Simon said.

In states that legalize marijuana, Simon said, his group would like to see most municipalities allow regulated sales “in part because we want all adults to have safe, legal access to lab-tested cannabis, and in part because it’s one of the keys to successfully transitioning from illicit markets to regulated markets.”

But Raymond student Reynolds has a different concern. ”If we’re legalizing it for adults, a lot of adults will have it readily available in their homes,” she said.

And kids who see their parents using marijuana will think it’s safe, she said.

There’s already a lot of peer pressure to try vaping and marijuana, Reynolds said.

“Right now a lot of the popular kids are smoking weed,” she said. “Even on their social media, they’re posting about it.”

“A lot of these kids are losing their youth and their health just to seem cool and fit in with everyone else,” she said. “Giving away their physical health for some social image.”

“This is really concerning the health of our children in our community,” she said.

swickham@unionleader.com


March 18, 2021  -   The majority voted and they do not want marijuana.

The official votes are in and the verdict is the majority of people do not want marijuana in their community.   Contrary to what the high paid lobbyists would want you to believe and promote, or survey data shared from a paid survey center might suggest, the majority of citizens in small New Hampshire communities do not want the business of marijuana in their rural settings.  

In a historic vote, perhaps by the first town in the state of NH to have it on a ballot, the voters of Raymond NH have spoken.  Votes are in favor of restricting “activities related to marijuana and marijuana-based product which would include commercial marijuana cultivation, marijuana testing facilities, marijuana product manufacturing, marijuana retailers, on-site marijuana consumption at a business location, and any other marijuana-related activity for commercial purposes.” 

In an effort led by the Raymond Coalition For Youth, a nonprofit organization that works to promote safe and healthy choices for youth, two warrant articles were on the town ballot this March.  Both designed in an effort to promote public health and safety.  One a zoning amendment to restrict a business from using the marijuana plant or its likeness on a sign to promote their business.  The second to restrict business activities related to marijuana and marijuana-based products.  You can learn more about them both at www.rcfy.org  

Substance misuse prevention is simple, when you reduce access to a substance and increase awareness to the dangers and risks associated with it, in this case marijuana, you ultimately reduce use.   The Raymond Coalition For Youth (RCFY) started in 2002 to promote positive healthy choices for youth.  A positive outcome of these efforts is that in the past eighteen years, youth marijuana use has dropped from 29% to 21%.  

There is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion associated with today's marijuana. Many of the adults a child would turn to for answers such as their parents, grandparents, teachers, or even doctors, are unaware of how to answer their questions.  Simply put marijuana is a substance that comes with harmful risks and dangers and is not a regulated medicine prescribed by a doctor.

RCFY has worked with Drug Free Community prevention coalition partners located throughout the state of New Hampshire on a campaign to help raise awareness to Why You Should Care about this.  The big business of marijuana has lots of money to promote their business product, which some refer to as the “addiction for profit” business.  Together we need to stand up and raise awareness to the facts.  Marijuana is associated with a lot of health risks and consequences.  Today’s marijuana plant can produce THC levels from 20% - 95%.  THC is the active ingredient that produces a high and in some cases even mental psychosis.  Much different from the marijuana from the 1970’s and 1980s when the average THC level in a paper rolled joint was 3 – 5%.  the forms to use the drug are much different and include oils, shatter, edibles made to look like tasty treats, lotions and more.  The impact is not only harmful to humans, veterinarians have reported an increase in pet poisonings and growing the plants has lasting impacts on our environment and ecosystems.

In states like Colorado and California that have legalized marijuana, the majority of the communities have opted out of having sales in their communities.  This happens because not everyone wants to have this drug in their community.  Now the people here in New Hampshire have spoken, and the majority have said no to the business of marijuana related business in the community of Raymond New Hampshire.  

Thank you to everyone who voted for public health and safety, and for putting our youth and the rural character of our communities before money and misinformation.  

To learn more about the marijuana awareness prevention campaign visit www.rcfy.org/marijuanapreventioncampaign 

March 4, 2021 - Why You Should Care and vote yes on 37 and 38    

There are two important warrant article on the Town of Raymond ballot on March 9th.  Both of them are citizen petitions and if passed will be advisory only.  This means yes votes will be a suggestion to the planning board for further action, if ever even needed.  Neither of them have anything to do with law enforcement or punishment.

These warrant articles do not intend to limit or restrict the use of marijuana or hemp products for medical purposes or CBD in any form.  

Both of these warrant articles aim at protecting our kids and to help raise awareness regarding today’s marijuana and the current laws. Many adults have no idea what marijuana even is today.  It comes in many forms, shatter, oil, edibles and more.    Marijuana is drastically different from the 1970’s and 1980’s when the average THC level was 3 – 5%.  THC is the active ingredient that produces a high and in some cases even psychosis.  Today’s marijuana products average THC levels of 20% - 95%.

In NH, marijuana is decriminalized, meaning no one is going to jail for a personal amount of marijuana.  Those who have it in their possession get a ticket much like a speeding ticket.  New Hampshire also has therapeutic cannabis for qualifying medical conditions and is available at five locations in NH.   Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal. The state of NH has turned down legalizing marijuana for the past few years because there is still much to learn about its impact to health and safety.

Substance misuse prevention is everyone’s business.  Legalizing and taxing marijuana may create an option to bring in tax revenue but comes with a cost.  The tax impact for services needed to deal with the fall out of addiction, increased driving impaired rates, and emotional distress on youth and families cannot be ignored. 

Our young people are concerned about friends and family members who struggle with substance misuse and addiction and the kids who live in homes with adults who use.  “We should not have to worry about visiting a friend’s home only to have a parent ask us to use marijuana with them.”, a Raymond youth.   

The Raymond Coalition For Youth encourages you to learn more about why both of these articles are so important for the safety and wellbeing of our youth and community.  There is information at www.rcfy.org on the Why You Should Care – Marijuana Prevention campaign, as well as a marijuana resource page with information and talking points for parents and those who care about kids. 

A special thank you to the Raymond Voter Information Project for also listing information on both of these articles in their booklet and on their website.  It is true; a well-informed voter is the best voter.  We are hoping that these articles will help raise awareness and get people talking about the facts.

RCFY is a community coalition that works to promote positive healthy choices for youth by working with our youth.  If you are interested in learning more, or getting involved, please visit our website or check us out on social media.  

Visit our Marijuana Prevention Campaign page to learn more about why you should care and vote yes.  

January 25th, 2021 - Meth in NH, awareness is prevention - Join us on February 11, 2021, 9:00 am – 10:30 am, via zoom, for our monthly Raymond Coalition for Youth (RCFY) meeting.  Our guest will be DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Special Agent Jon DeLena, to talk about the growing concern about Meth coming into NH. 

Substance misuse prevention starts with a conversation and raising awareness to an issue.  It is very scary to think about such a highly addictive drug being available in our communities, but if we do not talk about it, we cannot address it.

We know that substance misuse prevention starts at a young age raising awareness to the dangers and risks of use, and limiting access to what is being misused.   Today our primary concerns are alcohol, marijuana and vaping.  Back in 2005 prevention groups tried to get people talking about the risks and dangers of prescription drugs but those were hard conversations to have.  People had a hard time believing something given to them by a doctor could cause a problem, but here we are fifteen years later in disbelief of what happened to so many individuals and families. 

It is better to have a prevention conversation and work together to get in front of an issue than it is to try to stop it. 

In addition, we will be further discussing our community assessment regarding what concerns adults have for our youth.  RCFY started in 2000 in response to high rates of substance misuse in our community.  We have worked together with community partners, law enforcement, parents, grandparents and most importantly youth since then and our substance misuse rates have dropped significantly.  That is not to say they are not still a concern however and we want to hear from our community about what concerns them most.

RCFY monthly meetings are open for all to attend and our partners come from many communities in NH, all working together to make a difference.  If you would like to join us, please email info@rcfy.org for the link to the meeting.  To learn more about RCFY please visit www.rcfy.org or check us out on social media channels.  RCFY has been promoting positive healthy choices for youth since 2002 and we would love to have you on the team. 

Please enjoy our quick 2020 year in review - Prevention Summit video.

Thank you to everyone who makes the work at RCFY possible.  


March 6, 2020:

Good Afternoon,

We are very honored and excited to announce that the Raymond Coalition For Youth will be receiving the 2020 NH Center for Nonprofits Harvard Pilgrim Health Community Impact award!!  This award recognizes a nonprofit working to increase access to care and improve the well-being of individuals and communities to build a stronger, more vibrant state.

The Nonprofit Impact Awards will be presented to remarkable individuals and nonprofits that have made outstanding contributions to their communities. The emphasis of the awards will be to recognize those who push us to work more broadly, to innovate, and to expand our ways of meeting the needs of our state.

The award ceremony will take place on April 7th.  You can learn more here.

On behalf of RCFY, we would like to extend a very big thank you to each and every person who is connected to RCFY and supports our work. It is a collective impact because we work together to get it done.   

Together we are making a difference and have a lot to be proud of.  

Thank you, congratulations, and I hope you have a great weekend,

Celeste Clark, Executive Director
Raymond Coalition For Youth    www.rcfy.org        Facebook         YouTube
4 Epping St, Raymond, NH  03077

603 895 7061  cclark@rcfy.org    

The Raymond Coalition For Youth empowers the community to promote positive youth development and reduce youth substance use and suicide risk.


February 17, 2020:

View our latest press release about our 7th Annual Fundraising Gala in the Carriage Towne News.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 10, 2020
Contact:  Celeste Clark
cclark@rcfy.org   603-895-7061    or 603-785-4560  (cell)       

                            

Raymond Coalition for Youth Presents in Washington DC at CADCA 2020 National Leadership Forum

Raymond, NH – Raymond Coalition For Youth (RCFY) Executive Director Celeste Clark and Program Coordinator Christine Bostaph presented at the 30th annual Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) as part of the 2020 National Leadership Forum in Washington, DC. The presentation, Using your DFC (Drug-Free Communities Grant) to sustain your DFC coalition efforts. The Raymond Coalition For Youth (RCFY) is in year ten of the ten-year Drug Free Community grant cycle and wanted to share with other coalition leaders how to use the model program, and the tools that are a part of the program, to plan for the long term success of the efforts created with the grant.  (Pictured:  Celeste Clark, Executive Director, and Christine Bostaph, Program Coordinator.)

The DFC program has two goals, to increase community collaboration and partnerships working together, and to reduce substance misuse. When you have a community working together on common goals, communicating and sharing resources, you naturally see success. Is it easy? No, but when it works and everyone is invested it is a pretty amazing thing. That was part of the message that RCFY shared with those who attended the class in DC. Use the tools that the grant required you to have to get the funding in the first place. The DFC grant gives you the building blocks to help you build a foundation to sustain the many community partnerships, programs, and efforts that are created in the process. 

The grant requires you have twelve sectors working together, law enforcement, schools, health care, businesses, government, civic groups, faith-based, volunteers, parents and most importantly our youth. We can not create a safe environment for our youth if we do not include their voice. It also requires you to submit a sustainability plan in year three and seven so you are somewhat prepared when the funding cycle ends. 
 


There are challenges to this, of course, if a person leaves a position who was a champion for your work the next person might not understand what a coalition does, the value it has or even the understanding of working together with others on a common purpose. It is our task to work with these people and see how the coalition can benefit them. When a person understands “what's in it for them”, they are more likely to want to get involved. DFC also looks at environmental strategies, also known as programs and activities that influence our community as a whole. It is providing information and opportunities for everyone to understand how we together can be a part of a safe, healthy and drug-free community.

RCFY leaders know that we need to operate the organization like a business. We cannot expect to have a grant to fund all of our efforts forever. We have to be diverse and look at grants, donations, fundraising and any and all opportunities that present themselves. “People invest in our work at RCFY and it is our responsibility to deliver programming that supports the mission: to empower the community to promote positive youth development and reduce youth substance misuse, and suicide risk,” stated Director, Celeste Clark. “We have been doing this together as a community since 2002 and are pretty proud, certainly grateful, and very excited about the many, many people, organizations and businesses who truly have been a part of what the Raymond Coalition For Youth is all about.”

To learn more about The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug Free Community program please visit WhiteHouse.gov/ONDCP.

To learn more about RCFY and our many efforts and programs please visit www.rcfy.org or check us out on social media. Coming up on March 21st, 2020 is our seventh annual fundraising gala featuring comedian Juston McKinney. This is our key fundraising event of the year to help with our sustainability. To purchase tickets, help with a sponsorship, donate an item for our auction please contact our office at 603-895-7061 or info@rcfy.org.




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 4, 2019

Media Contact: 

Celeste Clark, cclark@rcfy.org, (603) 895-7061

Roots of success continue to grow stronger in Raymond.

 

The Raymond Coalition For Youth hosted its Seventh Annual Prevention Summit to a full house of people all connected to supporting youth in our communities. It was a powerful sight to see law enforcement, health care, parents, senators, and members of Congress, school, business professionals, faith leaders, and local government, along with youth and parents, all in the same room, all a part of an organization so much bigger than just a few people. RCFY is a true community effort of people who work together to make things better for our young people, and it is inspiring to see and be a part of it.

 

The theme of the morning was a tree to represent the strong roots that continue to strengthen as partnerships form, and people work together for the common good. “Seventeen years ago, I don’t think anyone could have imagined the small group of people who formed RCFY would be here today, in a room full of over one-hundred individuals, all coming together to support the youth in our community,” stated Executive Director, Celeste Clark. 

 

The strength of the Raymond Coalition For Youth is based on the people who are involved. “It is about connections and communication.” Monthly RCFY meetings have been happening on the second Thursday of the month, 9:00 – 10:30 am for over seventeen years, now held at the Raymond Baptist Church. These meetings are for sharing ideas, staying updated on trends, putting strategies in place, and building a strong, active community. 

 

All of these partnerships supporting youth have resulted in lower rates of substance misuse. 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results were shared, and Raymond has lower reported past thirty-day marijuana and alcohol use amongst its high school students. Vaping, which is a concern across the country, increased three percent. 

 

RCFY recognized, “People are stronger when they work together.” Our 2019 award recipients were Special Agent Jon DeLena of the New England Drug Enforcement Administration for the 2019 Community Leader award, the Town of Raymond NH, and Town Manager Joe Isley for our 2019 Community Partner award and Alex Cooney for our RCFY Youth Leadership award. Congratulations, and thank you, to each of them. All of these individuals played an important role in moving the Raymond Coalition For Youth in a meaningful direction and helping us to connect services to our community and raise awareness of the importance of our work.

 

Our KeyNote speaker was Christine McNulty Grant, who addressed stress, more importantly, toxic stress and the impact that has on a teen. Her message for adults was to support our youth and be more aware of how much teens have going on in their lives. The top two stressors for teens are school and parents; this was evidenced by a national survey and aligned with data collected from Raymond students.

 

As adults, we need to be mindful of the messages we are sending to our youth. How do we deal with stress? We need to promote healthy diets and exercise, and most importantly, how do relax and sit comfortably in quiet, without worry about what we are missing. We need to be mindful of how we talk about a “need” for substances such as alcohol or other addictive substances such as caffeine and sugar. “I need a beer.” “I need my morning coffee.” These are sometimes said by well-meaning adults who might not realize the message they are sending. 

 

Our RCFY Youth Action students drove home the message with a presentation on what causes them stress. These included work, sports, homework, teachers who don’t talk to each other and have conflicting schedules or expectations of students, trouble at home with divorce, drama, and families. “We have to get up early to be at school, go to practice for two or more hours, and be at our best to compete on the field. Only to go home and have to do homework, so we stay on top of our grades and are ready for college.” Some of these kids go to school only to get out and go to work for six additional hours. Their messages for adults: “You don’t always have to have an answer. Let us figure it out.” “Just listen.” “It might not be a big deal to you, but it is to me.” “We had a long day too.” Compelling messages from our youth to adults who might not always be aware that kids have significant stress. 


We want to thank everyone who makes up the Raymond Coalition For Youth. To learn more about this amazing nonprofit organization, please visit www.rcfy.org or contact our office 603-895-7061, info@rcfy.org. You are welcome to join us at a monthly meeting and check us out of social media sites, as well. Raymond Community Television recorded this entire event. We are very grateful to them! That and additional videos of this presentation are also available on our RCFY YouTube channel.


October 4, 2019:

Thank you so much to Cheryl at Raymond Area News​ for her continued support, and this excellent article on today's 7th Annual Prevention Summit.


July 22, 2019:

RCFY in Parenting, NH magazine article: Reading, writing and vaping

"While combustible cigarette use has declined among young people, vaping — the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) — has skyrocketed.

The widely held attitude about e-cigarettes and similar devices among teens and many adults is that vaping is safe, and that e-juice, which contains nicotine, is only water and fruit and candy flavoring."

Click on the picture or the link above to read the entire article. 


June 28, 2019:

Raymond was highlighted, in a very good way, last night and this morning, on WMUR.

The story was on our Raymond Coalition For Youth Drug-Free Community grant that we are wrapping up year nine and going into year ten, our last year of funding.

With your help and support, and being a part of the Raymond Coalition For Youth, we have been able to build a strong foundation and are very optimistic about our future. We are very excited about the many people, organizations, and business that make up RCFY and appreciate that our community understands the value of us all working together to achieve success.

Thank you.  Thank you for your time, energy, desire to work together, and for sharing resources to support our young people and community.  This is what creates success and positive change.  "Alone We Can Do So Little. Together We Can Do So Much." ~ Helen Keller.  

Click on the picture above to watch the video on WMUR's site.  View our latest newsletter to read more about the national recognition RCFY received on June 27th with Governor Sununu.


May 2019:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact - Celeste Clark, Executive Director, Raymond Coalition For Youth
cclark@rcfy.org   603-895-7061

Taking Pride in Raymond Sweeps through the Town

"People were thanking us, and that made me feel really good." A strong comment from a Raymond High school student on Wednesday.  Self-pride, community pride, involvement, appreciation, and connections are all some of the reasons why the Raymond Coalition For Youths Operation Raymond Clean Up event, in its fifteenth year, is so important.  In one day, twelve hundred pounds of trash was collected and properly disposed of.

Over the past two weeks, hundreds of people have taken to the streets, parks, and trails of Raymond NH to clean up trash, recyclables, bulk waste items, and cigarette butts. "It's unbelievable what some people throw away, and where they throw it," said one student.  One of the oddest items found was a loveseat; one of the oldest was a submerged shopping cart from the old Prescott Farms grocery store submerged in the river. Participants collected bikes, tires, liquor bottles, beer cans and filled four gallon-sized plastic bags full of cigarette butts as part of Breathe NH's annual Bag-The-Butts campaign.

A big bonus to this day is exposing people, especially our high school students, to some of the fun undiscovered locations we have in this great little town.  Riverside Park, located at the end of Sundeen Parkway, is a park that has a playground, dog park, walking trails, and a beautiful field. This park is an excellent location for enjoying nature and taking some time to unwind and relax. "I am so excited; I have lived here my whole life and didn't even know this place existed." said a chaperone who had a group of high school student participating in the clean-up community service day.

There are the rails to trails that go through Raymond from Prescott Rd. in Epping to Candia.  These trails are unpaved but wide enough for walking, running, bike riding and even has a secret spot on the Lamprey River for those who might like to go fishing, or sit and relax, taking in nature.   

This year the new town manager, Joe Ilsley, wanted the town to be more a part of this event and offered for town employees to participate.  With the town involved, RCFY was able to get the school involved, and it transformed into a high school community service day with conversations of making this a graduation requirement moving forward.

"Anytime we can get adults and kids positively interacting with each other, it increases a young person's protective factors.  In the world of prevention, these are the good things in a person's life that help them to succeed," commented Celeste Clark, Executive Director of RCFY. "Today was full of protective factors: connecting kids to the community, giving them an opportunity to take pride in the place they call home, positive adult role models and interactions, businesses stepping up to support them, adults taking an interest in them, all super amazing things."

"This was the beginning of a great relationship between the school and the town of Raymond, and we are looking forward to great things," said Mr. Ilsley.   A special thank you to Raymond Police Department, Recreation Department, and Public Works for setting up and cooking lunch for everyone who was a part of this day.  A special shout out to high school teacher Mr. Hayes who got the grill up and going. "He's the best," said a student waiting to eat - a comment that was repeated by more than a few students who know him as a teacher they can go to as a trusted adult.  In the prevention world, an adult like him is priceless.

One of the goals of RCFY is to increase community collaboration, and this event hit a home run.  T-shirts specially designed for the day said: "I AM THE COALITION" because everyone who makes an event like this a success is what the Raymond Coalition For Youth is all about – a community working together.  RCFY is so much bigger than one person, one department or one group – it takes all of us, and that is why RCFY is a success - because so many people pitch in. A special thank you to Hannaford, who provided healthy morning snacks for all of our high school students.  A special thank you to Tuckaway Tavern who provided the hamburgers, hot dogs, and water for over four hundred volunteers. This event was made possible through the RCFY Drug-Free Community grant funds and SAMHSA Partnership for Success Grant in the Raymond School District.  For more information, please visit www.rcfy.org. Check out pictures of this great community event on Raymond Coalition For Youth social media channels. Working together, we do make a difference!


March 2019:


January 2019:


Read the latest issue of Raymond Recreation Department's "On The Common". Here is the RCFY section:


Please enjoy our quick 2020 year in review - Prevention Summit video.                   Thank you to everyone who makes our work possible. 

Interstate Peer Pressure

As a teenager, I am constantly surrounded by my peers and their opinions on different topics. One of the topics that they are the most vocal on is marijuana — specifically the state of legalization of the drug. Although some of my peers are quite passionate about marijuana legalization, they cannot see the big picture of what would happen to New Hampshire if it is legalized. Furthermore, the decriminalization of the drug has already diminished the perception of risk, which has made people more comfortable experimenting with it.

Despite the popularity of the substance, there is still a lot of confusion about the short-term and long-term effects of the drug on both a person’s health as well as society as a whole. A lot of trouble with this topic comes from the mixed messaging that people of all ages hear about marijuana. Many pro-pot people like to bring up the healing and medicinal properties of a component found in the plant, which is called CBD. I agree that there are benefits of using CBD for specific conditions; however, this argument is irrelevant within the context of marijuana legalization. People who need therapeutic cannabis can already obtain it legally in the state of New Hampshire, but medicinal marijuana is often used as an argument to confuse voters so that they can get the law passed. Additionally, anyone who says that it won’t affect kids/teens because it will be age-restricted doesn’t realize that if over 35 percent of teenagers admit to using marijuana while it is illegal, more teens will use the substance once it is more accessible. With marijuana becoming more popular, I have begun to hear young people say that they “drive better while high” or that they do not see a problem with driving a car while high. This is probably the scariest aspect of marijuana for me because I drive on the same roads as people who drive while impaired.

I fear that the only things that will come from the legalization of marijuana would be that the perception of risk of this substance would drop to virtually none, increased marijuana use in adolescents (despite age restrictions), and increased car accidents related to driving while impaired. Marijuana legalization does not have to be inevitable, and I hope that those who are against it will use their voice and express their concerns to those in power. New Hampshire has done something unusual thus far by refusing to be “peer-pressured” by the states around us, and by staying true to the values of the community.

by Savanna Cooney, Youth Intern for the Raymond Coalition for Youth

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