Friday, February 27, 2015

Black market marijuana continues to be avaiable to teenagers

Black market marijuana costs one-third as much as marijuana sold in legal (I-502) stores, according to an article appearing in today's Seattle Times.  "State Liquor Control Board (LCB) Director Rick Garza acknowledged a black market for marijuana likely will remain even after a system overhaul.  Garza assumes about 25 percent of the state's current black market is considered to be people under 21 who aren't allowed to buy recreational marijuana legally."

Black market marijuana is largely shared or sold to high school students by their friends.  Results from the 2012 Seattle Public School Youth Risk Behavior Survey show that almost 70% of high school students who use marijuana get it from friends.  

Black market marijuana in Washington is largely grown in Washington. So much is grown locally, Washington weed is sold throughout the United States. 

To eliminate the black market, Washington and local jurisdictions can invest in substance use prevention to reduce demand and enforce laws to reduce supply.  Changing the medical marijuana system will help reduce a significant portion of the supply to underage users, but not as much as investing in methods for preventing youth marijuana access and use for which coalitions like Prevention WINS have been advocating for long before state voters approved I-502.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seattle Schools: Most drug disciplinary actions involve marijuana

Last night, KOMO broadcast a story about marijuana-related disciplinary incidents among Seattle students so far this school year.



While school administrators mostly confiscate smoked marijuana from students, they are increasingly confiscating marijuana-infused foods and beverages as they learn to differentiate them from regular foods.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NE Seattle adults encouraged to Mind Your Meds

The Prevention WINS coalition is launching a Mind Your Meds campaign with NE Seattle middle and high schools sending fact sheets home with report cards.  The campaign encourages adults to lock up medications as a way to prevent prescription drug abuse among teenagers. 

While less than 10% of NE Seattle middle and high school students report abusing prescription drugs, the rates of abuse steadily increased among 8th and 10th graders since 2008. The Prevention WINS coalition is particularly concerned about this trend considering potential health consequences related with prescription drug abuse. 

Percent of students reporting abusing prescription drugs, Washington State Healthy Youth Survey

Learn more about the Mind Your Meds campaign and what you can do to prevent teen medicine abuse! View and share short clips on the Prevention WINS YouTube page about what NE Seattle parents can do.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pediatricians recommend strict enforcement of marijuana laws

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an updated policy statement about marijuana laws on Monday.  One of their recommendations says: 

In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, the AAP strongly recommends strict enforcement of rules and regulation that limit access and marketing and advertising to youth.

In our state, the recreational (I-502) marijuana rules and regulations that are meant to limit access, marketing, and advertising are only effective if they are enforcedMany policies are based on research conducted on limiting access, marketing, and advertising for alcohol and tobacco.  

One proven way to limit access is to limit the number of stores in a community.  A few bills introduced to the state legislature this session would increase the number of marijuana stores allowed in communities.  Current rules prohibit stores from being 1,000 feet from schools, community centers, and other places young people frequent.  The legislature is considering bills that would reduce this buffer to allow for more marijuana shops. Rules that limit underage access to marijuana not only need to be enforced, they need to be maintained, not made weaker.  

Board of Health urges legislature to align medical and recreational marijuana regulations


Last week, the Washington Poison and Drug Information Center reported a record number of marijuana exposures in Washington State since before recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012.  The majority of calls occurred within the 13 to 19 age range quickly followed by the 20 to 29 age group.  The majority of exposures were a result of intentional abuse in ages 13 and older followed by unintentional, unsupervised ingestion. 

Marijuana products implicated in these exposures included but were not limited to marijuana chocolate bars, brownies, butane hash oil, marijuana-infused drinks, and marijuana gummy bears.  

To address the problem of child and teen exposure to these kinds of marijuana products, the King County Board of Health asked the state legislature for help.  A resolution was adopted during their January meeting that states, in part: 

Whereas, twenty percent of all marijuana-related calls to the Washington Poison Center involved children in King County . . .

Whereas, many edible marijuana products available in medical marijuana dispensaries are designed, packaged and advertised in ways that are attractive to youth, including the development of products such as candies, cookies, chocolates and soda and other sugary drinks . . . 

Whereas, medical dispensaries are not required to ascertain the age of consumers . . .

Whereas, legalization of marijuana for adult use in Washington state may have made access to marijuana easier for people of all ages, including access to edible marijuana products . . . 

The Board of Health calls on the Washington state Legislature to ensure that the marijuana industry in Washington state properly safeguards the health and safety of our children and youth, and to align regulation of the medical marijuana industry with the recreational marijuana market in order to provide an equal level of protection to children and youth in both industries.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What's going on with King County's medicine return program?

When the state legislature failed to pass bills that would establish a statewide medicine return program two years in a row, Prevention WINS joined other substance abuse prevention, healthcare, and environmental organizations to advocate for a program in King County.  Medicine return programs are part of a multi-pronged strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse among teenagers by reducing access to the drugs in homes.

In 2013, the King County Board of Health adopted a secure medicine return program despite threats by drug manufacturers, who would be responsible for the program, of a lawsuit.  Drug companies filed a lawsuit against King County a few months after the policy was adopted.  They had already filed a lawsuit against Alameda County in California which adopted a similar policy in 2012. The drug manufacturers claim that the policy violates the United States Constitution. 

In 2014, a federal appeals court disagreed with the drug manufacturers who are now appealing to the Supreme Court.  The lawsuit against King County is on hold until a final court decision is made in the Alameda County case.  In the meantime, King County is moving forward with the implementation process which will lead to medicine return drop boxes in all pharmacies in the county. 

Teen drug abuse is a community problem that requires prevention activities conducted by multiple organizations.  Like schools implementing prevention programs, parents monitoring the medications in their homes, police hosting regular medicine take-back days, and physicians using the Prescription Monitoring Program, drug manufacturers can play a key role by running take-back programs. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Juvenile justice holds kids accountable

When Prevention WINS members talk about the need to enforce laws dealing with minors in possession of drugs and alcohol, some community members are alarmed and think that the coalition wants to put teenagers in jail.  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  King County has a robust juvenile diversion program that diverts teenagers from jail and into programs meant to help them.

In the video below, a King County Prosecutor talks about the diversion program and about how it has reduced the number of juveniles in detention facilities.



He notes that "the vast majority, if not all" of teenagers who come into contact with the juvenile justice system have a substance abuse problem.  This is another reason why substance use prevention programs targeting middle school students are so important.  It is also why policies that limit youth access to drugs and therefore prevent youth use of those drugs is important.  Preventing youth substance use can prevent juvenile crime.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Medical marijuana products at school

Cannabis Quencher Strawberry Lemonade was confiscated from a high school student by Seattle Public Schools staff earlier this month.  District staff shared photos:
This product was likely sold as medical marijuana since the label does not meet Liquor Control Board standards for recreational marijuana products.  If sold as recreational marijuana and regulated by the Liquor Control Board it would contain 8 servings.  (1 serving = 10 mg of THC)  

Board of Health urged to ban marijuana edibles that appeal to children and teenagers

Several Seattle community members testified before the King County Board of Health last week asking that they ban medical marijuana edibles that are attractive to children and teenagers.  They spoke about the many medical marijuana stores in their communities, a spike in marijuana poisonings in our state, and provided personal stories about losing a child to drugs.



The Board of Health was also briefed about the implementation of the secure medicine return program which was adopted in 2013 as a way to reduce prescription drug abuse among teenagers.  The program is moving forward despite pharmaceutical companies suing the county in an effort to block it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Easy access to medical marijuana among teenagers

On Saturday, the Seattle Times published two pieces about the unregulated medical marijuana system in our state and how it plays out in Seattle.  

"How I learned it's ridiculously easy to buy pot at medical marijuana dispensaries without a 'green card'" is written by a reporter who, apparently, looks young for her age.  After easily purchasing fruit-flavored strains of marijuana in two out of three medical marijuana dispensaries without showing ID or an authorization, she wonders, "Why did these guys have to make it so easy, especially if they thought I looked too young? What if I were an underage kid?"  


Prevention WINS coalition members representing schools, parents, juvenile probation, and drug counselors have been reporting how easy it is for teenagers to get medical marijuana for a few years.  This became especially true once Seattle started licensing medical marijuana dispensaries as businesses and they started popping up along north Seattle arterial roads like Lake City Way and Aurora.  One student at a north end high school was caught many times sharing and selling medical marijuana to friends that he bought from a nearby dispensary.  Five students from another high school required medical attention after eating high potency medical marijuana edibles last year.  A middle school drug counselor complained to police about students coming to school with marijuana they purchased at a medical marijuana dispensary on Rainier Avenue.  All of these reports were apparently ignored by public officials.


An accompanying editorial, "Unregulated medical-marijuana market is creating a hazy future", calls on the City of Seattle and the state legislature to do something about medical marijuana.  They state that there is "no excuse to ignore existing authority, including criminal charges against black-market dealers masquerading as dispensaries."




Monday, December 1, 2014

Mayor prepares to make zoning recommendations for medical marijuana businesses

During the medical marijuana symposium hosted by the Mayor's Office last month, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development shared maps of possible scenarios for medical marijuana business zoning.

Two possible scenarios would create 500 foot buffer zones between medical marijuana businesses and places where children congregate including schools, playgrounds, daycare centers, parks, and libraries.  One of those scenarios measures the buffer zones according to "how the crow flies" and one according to "common path of travel" - the shortest walking distance.  This is what the two scenarios look like in NE Seattle:

As the Crow Flies
Yellow = estimated areas for medical marijuana businesses
Gray & pink = medical marijuana businesses not allowed
Red dots = existing medical marijuana businesses
Green dots: existing medical marijuana businesses that would be allowed

Common Path of Travel

If the City decides to use a 500 foot buffer, instead of the 1,000 foot buffer required "as the crow flies" around recreational marijuana businesses, city-wide187 (as the crow flies) or 210 (common path of travel) medical marijuana businesses would potentially be allowed to remain open.  This is in addition to 21 recreational marijuana retailers and an unknown amount of recreational marijuana growers and processors in Seattle.  

Marijuana business density is of concern for teen drug use prevention efforts because research has repeatedly shown that teens who live in communities with many tobacco and alcohol businesses have high rates of tobacco and alcohol use.  A study recently published in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that "higher total density of medical marijuana dispensaries was related to greater likelihood of past year use of marijuana."  In other words, the more available a drug is, the higher use rates are.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Marijuana Mess"

City Attorney Pete Holmes, Reverend Harriett Walden, and City Councilmember Nick Licata recently appeared on City Inside/Out and discussed the medical and recreational marijuana systems in Seattle.

Councilmember Licata said that if the state legislature does not "fix" the medical marijuana law, Seattle likely will have to shut down marijuana dispensaries.

He noted that legal and regulated alcohol is more abused than marijuana and suggested that perhaps alcohol stores should not be located near churches if people disapprove of marijuana stores near churches.

When it comes to the illegal use of marijuana in public, the councilmember encouraged people to complain by calling 911 and asking for a quick response.  He stated that minors should not go to jail for alcohol and marijuana violations which echoes long-time city and county policy that refers minors to a diversion program, not jail.   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Prescription drug abuse prevention training now available to view online

Prescription drug abuse has steadily increased among NE Seattle middle and high school students since 2008.  Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of American hosted a webinar earlier this week about this nationwide problem.  It is now available to view online.




The webinar explored national prescription drug abuse trends, the types of prescription drugs adults and youth use non-medically, and how to gather local data on this issue to inform strategies and interventions. The webinar also provided a case study from a coalition in Kentucky that reduced prescription drug abuse by 80 percent.

The Prevention WINS coalition is currently planning to launch a public education campaign called Mind Your Meds encouraging NE Seattle residents to lock up medications in their homes as one way for preventing teen prescription drug abuse. 

City hosting medical marijuana symposium tonight


Tonight:
Bertha Knight Landes Room at City Hall 
5:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. 

Medical marijuana businesses in Seattle and in jurisdictions across the state remain unregulated.  In March, a state court of appeals ruled that collective gardens (dispensaries) are not legal under Washington's current law.  

The Mayor's Office organized this symposium for those concerned about access to medical marijuana and the location of marijuana-related businesses in the city.  

“We are still looking to Olympia to enact broad medical marijuana reform next session, but we need to take action here in Seattle to address immediate concerns of patients, businesses and neighbors,” said Mayor Ed Murray. 

The symposium will feature panel discussions on a range of issues where medical marijuana businesses face a much more uncertain regulatory landscape than recreational marijuana operations governed by the state’s Liquor Control Board, including:
  • Testing of marijuana products for purity and strength
  • Best practices for manufacturing marijuana-infused products
  • Packaging and labeling requirements
  • The location of dispensaries and collective gardens

Poison Center reports spike in pediatric exposure to marijuana 
This event comes a week after the Washington Poison Center reported a spike in marijuana exposures among children and teenagers.  The report notes that with only a handful of recreational marijuana stores open in the state, the majority of exposures likely result from marijuana obtained at medical marijuana dispensaries. “The medical marijuana industry is largely unregulated and not subject to the scrutiny and oversight by the Liquor Control Board that recreational marijuana must go through”, says Dr. Garrard, Clinical Managing Director of the Washington Poison Center.

Overdoses among children
Marijuana overdoses in children have caused seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, breathing problems that sometimes require mechanical ventilation until breathing returns to normal, and extremely high heart rates.  Children may become lethargic, disoriented, intensely agitated, have difficulty walking and balancing, and be unable to respond to stimulation.  

Exposure among teenagers
Last year, five Seattle high school students overdosed on marijuana edibles while at school and required medical attention.  During this week's Prevention WINS coalition meeting, members representing schools and parents discussed the need for marijuana packaging and products that are readily identifiable as containing marijuana.  Right now, it is difficult to determine since some medical marijuana packaging and products mimic packaging and products that do not contain marijuana.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Teen drug use prevention resources

Looking for information about how to prevent teen drug use?  Below is a list of local, state, and national organizations that provide teen drug use education and prevention resources.

Community coalitions in Seattle

University of Washington

King County region

Washington 

National & federal

Internet

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Councilmember Licata discusses marijuana business licensing

Last week, Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata talked about the medical and recreational marijuana systems, among other topics, on the Seattle Channel.

The marijuana discussion starts at around 7:35 and lasts for about 3 minutes.  Councilmember Licata explained that while medical marijuana businesses are licensed in Seattle, they are not regulated.  The City does not receive excise tax revenue from either marijuana systems and, right now, recreational marijuana is "undersold" compared to medical marijuana.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Learn about advocacy during free seminar December 3


Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE) is hosting a 2014 Fall Seminar:

Wednesday, December 3
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Professor and long-time community activist Nancy Amidei will cover the basic functions of our three branches of government, how a bill becomes a law, and five effective advocacy tools. 

RSVP by November 21 to Wendy.Watson@seattle.gov.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

General coalition meeting next week

Prevention WINS General Coalition Meeting
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
8-9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital Division of Adolescent Medicine
4540 Sand Point Way NE

For more information please contact coalition staff.

All meetings are open to everyone concerned about youth substance use in NE Seattle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Learn about prescription drug abuse during free webinar


Free webinar:
Tuesday, November 18 at noon
Click here to register.

To help communities tackle problems they’re facing with prescription drug misuse and abuse, CADCA is launching a four-part webinar series on this important topic. The series kicks off on November 18 with a one-hour webinar that will explore the problem of prescription drug misuse and abuse in the United States. Participants will learn about national prescription drug abuse trends, the types of prescription drugs adults and youth use non-medically, the unintended consequences of prescription drug abuse on communities and linkages to other problems. In addition, participants will learn how to gather local data on this issue to inform their strategies and interventions. The webinar will also provide a case study from a coalition in Kentucky that reduced prescription drug abuse by 80 percent. 

Thursday: Mental Health & Substance Abuse Legislative Forum


Thursday, November 13, 2014
Public reception at 6:30 pm, program begins at 7:00 pm.

This annual community forum features Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett, along with a parental perspective from Seattle television reporter/producer Penny LeGate. Jim Vollendroff, director of King County’s mental health and substance abuse services, will identify the key legislative priorities for the upcoming year, and highlight innovations and outcomes in behavioral healthcare in the community. Individuals recovering from mental illness and/or substance abuse will share their personal stories, and state and federal legislators representing this region will also share their perspectives and priorities.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Liquor Control Board is seeking public comments about marijuana-infused foods


The Liquor Control Board (LCB) recently proposed new rules to govern what types of marijuana-infused foods they will allow to be made (processed) and sold as part of Washington’s recreational marijuana system.  The LCB does not regulate the medical marijuana market so these rules only apply to the recreational (I-502) market. 

Public comment period

The LCB is now seeking public comments about their proposed rules.  Comments are due by December 3 and a public hearing will be held that day. 

Overview of proposed rules

Marijuana processors must get infused products approved by LCB. 
What the proposed rule says: A marijuana processor licensee must obtain approval from the liquor control board for all marijuana-infused products, labeling, and packaging prior to offering these items for sale to a marijuana retailer. The marijuana processor licensee must submit a picture of the product, labeling, and packaging to the liquor control board for approval.

Denials may be appealed. 
What the proposed rule says: If the liquor control board denies a marijuana-infused product for sale in marijuana retail outlets, the marijuana processor licensee may request an administrative hearing per chapter 34.05 RCW, Administrative Procedure Act.

Products must be scored to show serving sizes. 
What the proposed rule says: Marijuana-infused products in solid form that contain more than one serving must be scored to indicate individual serving sizes, and labeled so that the serving size is prominently displayed on the packaging.

Packages containing multiple servings must be re-sealable. 
What the proposed rule says: Products containing more than one serving must be packaged in a package that remains child resistant after the package is opened.

Servings must contain equal amounts of THC. 
What the proposed rule says:  Marijuana-infused products must be homogenized to ensure uniform disbursement of cannabinoids throughout the product.

Packages must say that the product contains marijuana. 
What the proposed rule says: All marijuana-infused products must state on the label, "This product contains marijuana."

Products cannot be appealing to children. 
What the proposed rule says:  A marijuana processor is limited in the types of food or drinks they may infuse with marijuana to create (an infused edible product) marijuana-infused solid or liquor products meant to be ingested orally, that may be sold by a marijuana retailer. Marijuana-infused products that are made to be especially appealing to children are prohibited. Marijuana-infused products such as, but not limited to, gummy candies, lollipops, cotton candy, or brightly colored products, are prohibited.

Approved marijuana-infused products

The LCB implemented emergency rules about marijuana edibles earlier this year that required that all marijuana-infused products, packaging, and labeling be approved by them.  Following are a few examples of products that have already been approved by the LCB and are being sold in retail stores:
  • Cherry soda
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Granola
  • Trail mix
  • Cinnamon & sugar pita chips
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels
  • Brownie bites
The regularly-updated list of approved marijuana-infused products may be viewed on the LCB's website.  

For information about this topic, KCTS recently broadcast a story about marijuana edibles in both the medical and recreational markets.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Parents learn about local drug trends, "dabbing", and preventing teen drug use

Parents filled half of Nathan Hale High School's common area during last night's forum about preventing teen drug use.

Dr. Leslie Walker addresses NE Seattle parents at
Nathan Hale High School, November 3, 2014

The evening started with Dr. Leslie Walker providing an overview of teen drug abuse and what parents can do to prevent it.  One of the slides she shared showed the rates of current alcohol and marijuana use among students of Seattle's public neighborhood high schools.  She noted that students from the more affluent communities in Seattle report higher substance use rates than those living in less affluent communities.

Seattle Public Schools
10th Grade Substance Use Rates
Source: 2012 WA Healthy Youth Survey

Since an increasing number of teenagers who seek substance abuse treatment report "dabbing" (consuming concentrated forms of marijuana) and few parents knew what it was, Dr. Walker briefly provided a description of it.  A news story from last year provides a good overview of what dabbing is.

Friday, October 31, 2014

How youth get regulated marijuana

In his message to state employees Governor Inslee wrote, "While it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use or purchase marijuana, the reality is that legalizing the drug for adults makes it more accessible to youth." How is this possible when marijuana stores don't let anyone in who isn't over 21?

Because, like alcohol, teenagers who use primarily get it from friends.  A recent New York Times article about Colorado's marijuana system provides the perfect example.  It tells the story of Zach, a college student who buys medical marijuana and then sells it to others.  "Some of Zach’s clients are under 21 and cannot buy recreational cannabis legally. But others are older students who simply don’t want to pay the hefty tax — three times that levied on medical marijuana. So despite the abundance of recreational cannabis products since the first retail shops opened in January, there is still a vibrant black market for medical marijuana . . ."

A vibrant black market exists in Washington, as well.  When the Liquor Control Board was gearing up for marijuana market rule-making in 2013, they released data about who makes up the current marijuana market.

A quarter of current marijuana users are under the age of 21 - a thriving black market for anyone over the age of 21 who wants to share or re-sell their legally purchased marijuana. 

In another New York Times article a researcher states, "If I were to design a substance that is bad for college students, it would be marijuana" because it impairs working memory.  How marijuana use impacts student learning is one reason why substance use prevention programs from early middle school through college are especially important.  To be most effective, prevention activities need to include those that impact the wider community such as limiting the number of marijuana retailers and enforcing laws so that people cannot buy the drug outside of state-licensed stores.  Marijuana enforcement needs do not go away when the drug is legalized, they just change focus.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Free parent education forum: How to prevent teen drug use

All NE Seattle families are invited to a free parent education forum . . . 

Preventing teen drug use: What can parents do as alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs become more available?
Monday, November 3, 2014
7-8:30 p.m.
Nathan Hale High School
10750 30th Avenue NE

Dr. Leslie R. Walker, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital, will discuss teen health, the impact of drug use, and what parents can do to prevent it.  Dr. Walker will be followed by a panel discussion.

Panel members:

  • Lisa Chinn, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Seattle Children's Hospital
  • Annemarie Michaels, Nathan Hale teacher and parent of a teeenager
  • Rachel and Joseph, parents of a college freshman
  • Kipp Strong, Seattle Police Department
  • Nathan Hale student members of Raiders Against Destructive Decisions

Handouts will include A Parent's Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use.

NE Seattle 30-Day (Current) Use Rates, grades 8 & 10
Source: Washington Healthy Youth Surveys, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Governor urges parents and grandparents to know the facts about marijuana and youth

Governor Jay Inslee sent the following message to state employees earlier this week:


As our state continues implementation of Initiative 502, it is important, as parents and grandparents, that we understand the facts about marijuana so we can have productive conversations with the children and young adults in our lives about avoiding drug use.

Below are key facts and resources to aid you as you talk to your children and teens about making healthy life choices.

Facts:
  • In 2012, Washington voters approved Initiative 502 to allow the recreational use and purchase of marijuana for adults who are 21 years of age and older.
  • While it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use or purchase marijuana, the reality is that legalizing the drug for adults makes it more accessible to youth. Youth are also exposed to marijuana advertising. These factors increase the likelihood that youth will use marijuana.
  • Marijuana is addictive. About 9 percent of users become addicted; this number increases for those who start young (to about 17 percent, or 1 in 6) and those who use marijuana daily (to 25-50 percent).
  • Students who use marijuana are more likely to have lower grades and drop out of school compared to students who don’t use marijuana. In addition, many students who use marijuana also use other substances, including alcohol and tobacco (2012 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey).
  • The good news is that most students do not use marijuana, alcohol or other drugs, and they are less likely to use them when they know their parents disapprove of this.

Resources:
  • Marijuana: Know the Facts: What Parents Need to Know. Developed by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, this guide for parents has facts about the impacts of marijuana and I-502.
  • A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use. The guide contains helpful information about the unique risks of marijuana to the developing brain, proven strategies to help keep youth drug-free, signs and symptoms of marijuana use, and what to do if you suspect a child or teen may already be using marijuana.
  • For tips on how to talk with your kids at different ages, and other ways to keep them healthy and drug-free, visit www.StartTalkingNow.org.

We know that parental involvement makes a difference in keeping children, teens and young adults healthy, safe and in school. I encourage you to make use of these resources and to share them with others. Together, we can make our communities a safer and healthier place now and for future generations.

Additionally, for more information about marijuana research and minimizing risks for adult consumers, visit www.LearnAboutMarijuanaWA.org.

Very truly yours,

Jay Inslee

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Prevention WINS uses tested and effective programs to prevent teen marijuana use

What programs are most effective for preventing teen marijuana use?  That question is being studied by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) which recently released an updated review of scientific evidence about prevention programs.  They reviewed 23 youth marijuana prevention and treatment programs  and categorized them as "evidence-based", "research-based", or "promising."  (Definitions appear at the end of this post.)

School-based Programs
For the Prevention WINS coalition, the report brings good news: Life Skills Training, the program implemented at Eckstein Middle School since 2007, is identified as one of two top-tier evidence-based prevention programs.

Parenting Programs
The two parenting programs implemented through Eckstein, Guiding Good Choices and the Strengthening Families Program, are considered research-based for preventing teen marijuana use.

Community Programs 
Communities That Care is the other evidence-based prevention program identified by WSIPP.  Similar to the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) that Prevention WINS uses, Communities That Care guides communities to identify local risk factors and implement tested and effective programs to address them.

Using the SPF, Prevention WINS this year, for the first time, identified "community laws and norms favorable to drug use" as NE Seattle's primary teen marijuana use risk factor.  The "laws and norms" risk factor is determined by how easy it is for teenagers to access a drug; if they think they will be caught by police if they use a drug; and what they think others in the community think of kids using the drug.

To address community laws and norms favorable to marijuana use, the Prevention WINS coalition will continue to advocate for policies that reduce youth access to marijuana and for the adoption and enforcement of laws regarding minors and marijuana. These types of policies will support the messages that children and families hear when participating in school-based and parenting programs.

Summary of definitions: For complete definitions, see page 4 of the report)

Evidence-based: A program that has been tested multiple times and the weight of the evidence from a systematic review demonstrates sustained improvement in at least one outcome.  It also means a program that can be implemented with a set of procedures to allow successful replication and is determined to be cost-effective.

Research-based: A program that has been tested once and demonstrates sustained desirable outcomes but does not meet the full requirements of evidence-based.

Promising: A practice that shows potential for meeting the evidence-based or research-based criteria based on statistical analysis or a well-established theory of change.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Seattle marijuana businesses and preventing teen marijuana use


Over the past few days the Seattle Times published two opinions about the emerging recreational marijuana system and what they see as barriers to the establishment of a commercial marketplace.

On October 24, an opinion piece laments, “The fact that Seattle, triple the size of any other city in Washington, has only a handful of stores is ‘odd’ . . . because there are 21 locations authorized for the city.”  Though there are multiple reasons for less than 5 of those 21 retailers opening shop at this point, the writer suggests that, “Tweaking I-502 to loosen the 1,000 foot rule seems an obvious fix for some of this.”  (The 1,000 foot rule disallows marijuana businesses from being within 1,000 feet of schools, community centers, parks, and other places where children congregate.)

Instead of allowing for more marijuana retailers, Seattle should support limits on the number of retailers since such limits on businesses selling alcohol and tobacco are proven methods for preventing teen alcohol and tobacco use.  If marijuana legalization is to be successful in keeping the drug out of the hands of minors, then limiting retail outlets is sound policy to implement and support.

Getting rid of recreational marijuana’s main competition – medical marijuana – is one way to encourage more recreational marijuana retailers to open shop.  As an October 25 editorial states, “In reality, Seattle marijuana users shun recreational stores because they’re getting the cannabis from a larger, cheaper and unregulated source: medical marijuana dispensaries.  As Seattle’s former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan warned last month, medical marijuana is ‘not a loophole: It is the market.’”

The editorial goes on to say that the state legislature is to blame.  However, the City of Seattle can do something before the legislature decides whether or not to act on medical marijuana.  They can start by enforcing their own law and closing down medical marijuana businesses that opened within the last year.  Medical marijuana retailers are not recognized or protected by state law so they can be shut down if the political will exists.

With almost 40% of Seattle high school students who use marijuana reporting that they used marijuana that came from a medical marijuana dispensary, closing them is another way of preventing teen access to the drug.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

City informs medical marijuana businesses that they need to be licensed by state

Marijuana businesses that began operating after November 16, 2013 without a state marijuana business license are in violation of City of Seattle law and "can be subject to enforcement action" according to a recent letter to marijuana businesses from the Departments of Finance and Administrative Services and Planning and Development. 

In Seattle, 39% of high school students who use marijuana report using marijuana that came from a dispensary while 23% said they didn't know if they used medical marijuana.  While most high school marijuana users said that they got marijuana from a friend, these data suggest that a lot of friends get the marijuana they share or sell from medical marijuana businesses.

Source: 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Seattle Public Schools 
The Seattle PI reports that the letters were sent to 330 medical marijuana businesses.  With that many medical marijuana businesses in the city and so many high school marijuana users reporting that they use marijuana that came from a medical marijuana business, the link between outlet density and youth use seems to be, once again, supported.  Research done about alcohol and tobacco retail outlet densities repeatedly shows the link between youth use and the number of retailers in a community.