Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's been happening since I-1183 was approved?

It's been almost a year since Initiative 1183, which privatized the sales of hard alcohol and removed other alcohol regulations, was approved by Washington voters.  So, what has been happening in the past year?

Recently, I've attended several meetings, both local and on the state level, during which a hot topic was the amount of hard alcohol that is being shoplifted from grocery stores.  Here is a news report with an example of what is happening across the state.

Increased enforcement needs with less enforcement capacity
Since I-1183 was approved, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) lost over 1,000 full time employees, according to a report given during the September meeting of the WSLCB Business Advisory Council.

Since I-1183 did not direct more funding for the WSLCB Enforcement division, despite an increase in the number of liquor licensees, there are 290 liquor licensees for every Enforcement officer.  The Education and Enforcement division officer staffing is down 15% with an increase of retail licensees of 23%.

Business representatives reported that many of them have plans to ask the Washington legislature to remove or reduce fees that were included in I-1183.  These fees were included in the initiative to ensure that the state would not lose revenue due to liquor privatization.

NE Seattle
In addition to the more than 80 businesses that sell alcohol (not just hard alcohol) for off-premise consumption in NE Seattle, a new big box liquor store will soon be opening on Lake City Way right next door to a marijuana dispensary.

Buyer's remorse?
This video, produced by the UFCW, discusses liquor privatization in our state as a way to educate Pennsylvania voters as they consider privatizing the sale of liquor.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spirits to be sold over internet & phone for home delivery

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is seeking input regarding a rule change to allow spirits/hard alcohol to be sold over the internet, by phone, or by mail.  The proposal would allow for delivery to a residence -- a hotel or motel room would be considered a temporary residence.  Read the text of the rule change here.

The Liquor Control Board is accepting comments until Wednesday, October 24.  Comments may be emailed to the Rules Coordinator at  Comments may also be made during a public hearing on Wednesday, October 24, 10:00 a.m. in Olympia.

UPDATE:  The Liquor Control Board public hearing on this issue was postponed to October 31.  Same time, same place.

Marijuana food and beverages: a growth industry

Here is a story from 60 Minutes about marijuana-infused cookies, candies, and beverages.

Monday, October 15, 2012

From juice pouches to booze pouches

From Alcohol Justice, another example of how alcohol is marketed to minors:

Alcohol Justice called attention to a disturbing, new marketing/packaging brainchild – single-serve alcopops in soft-sided pouches that are cheap and highly portable - in other words, very appealing to youth . Since then, the product category has exploded . . .  As multiple media sources have recently indicated, there are not many alcohol producers that haven't jumped on board with the idea.

Manufacturers across the country have started to produce their own versions of the shtick: sweet, flavored malt beverages sold in squeezable pouches that are easy to carry, easy to consume, and easy to conceal when entering venues that prohibit alcohol from being brought inside. Because the producers say they are malt-based, these Smirnoff and Captain Morgan/Parrot Bay pouches sit on the shelf alongside beer, and get the benefit of very low beer excise tax rates as well. And with their bright colors, snazzy flavors like Cherry Limeade, and frequent encouragement to freeze and serve like popsicles, these drinks appeal to young drinkers looking for the the next big thing. 
The pouch product category represents just one more format with which the industry attracts kids and infuses alcohol into every aspect of young people's lives – by replacing Capri Sun pouches with Phusion's Island Squeeze, and providing a new way to sneak alcohol into college football games and concert venues. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Family Checkup" helps parents prevent teen drug abuse

Family Checkup, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free, recently was launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) .

NIDA-funded research has shown the critical role parents play in preventing their children from using drugs. Family Checkup poses questions for parents to consider as they interact with their children; highlighting parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth. The resource incorporates video examples that show parents how-to and how-not-to emulate each skill with their own children.

Here is one of the videos included in the Family Checkup:

Monday, October 8, 2012

County legislative forum November 15

Save the date!

16th Annual King County Community Legislative Forum -- 

Thursday, November 15, 2012
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Reception at 6:30 p.m.
Program from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
1119 8th Avenue

Every year, King County develops a legislative agenda that outlines priorities for the upcoming legislative session.  In this forum, Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett and local experts highlight innovations in the delivery of behavioral healthcare in King County and identify key legislative issues for 2013.  In addition, individuals recovering from mental illness and/or substance abuse tell their personal stories and legislators representing our region share their perspectives and priorities.  

Free & open to the public.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Parent night: how to communicate with teens about drugs

The NW Seattle Coalition for a Drug-Free Community is hosting a free educational event for parents:

Teens, Alcohol, Marijuana & Reality: Setting the Framework for Healthy Communication
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
7:00 p.m.
Ballard High School Library

Speaker: Kevin Haggerty, University of Washington Social Development Research Group

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

President Obama issued a proclamation designating October National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.  National Substance Abuse Prevention Month is a month-long observance to highlight the role substance abuse prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities.

Millions of Americans suffer from substance abuse, which includes underage drinking, alcohol dependency, non-medical use of prescription drugs, abuse of over-the-counter medications, and illicit drug use.

Prevention strategies targeting the root of the problem are essential to curb drug use and help people lead healthier lives. Early intervention helps prevent substance abuse and reduce the negative consequences of addiction before they occur. Through community-based efforts, like the Prevention WINS coalition, involving youth, parents, educators, and government officers, we can strengthen the support systems that deter young people from drug consumption and improve both academic performance and workforce readiness.  Each dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program can reduce costs related to substance use disorders by an average of $18.

Part of Substance Abuse Prevention Month, October 18 is the first annual "Above the Influence Day".  Youth groups around the country will conduct substance abuse prevention awareness activities.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

City of Seattle seeking input about public safety

On October 10, the City of Seattle's Safe Communities campaign will host a North Precinct Conversation to discuss public safety issues in our community.   The campaign seeks community input about public safety priorities and concerns.  The identified priorities will guide the actions the City, the Seattle Police Department, and the neighborhoods will take together to protect public safety.

The October 10 facilitated meeting will take place from 7-9:00 p.m. at North Seattle Community College, Room CC1161.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teen marijuana use: a medical perspective

Over at Seattle Children's Teenology 101, an adolescent medicine physician posted information about teen marijuana use.  Here is an excerpt:

Popular movies and TV shows frequently refer to marijuana use as if it’s normal and perfectly acceptable (have you seen the movie Friday or watched That 70′s Show?), yet rarely portray any of the dangers. The harmful health effects of marijuana include worsening of lung function, lack of motivation, increased appetite, poor concentration, poor sleep, and even gynecomastia (or breast tissue development) in males. 

More information about adolescent marijuana use may be found at:

-- the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington;

-- the Journal of the American Medical Association reporting on a study that found that "persistent marijuana use beginning in adolescence is associated with a decline in cognitive function by midlife . . ."

-- the American Academy of Pediatrics statement about marijuana policy.