Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New WA marijuana legislation & its impact on local youth

During this year's state legislative session, two bills were adopted that make changes to the marijuana systems in Washington. Below is a summary as they relate to youth in NE Seattle.

Cannabis Patient Protection Act (5052)
  • Eliminates medical marijuana businesses.
  • Requires the newly re-named Liquor & Cannabis Board (LCB) to increase the number of marijuana retail licenses they issue.
  • Creates a voluntary medical marijuana registry. Those who register as medical marijuana users are exempt from the marijuana excise tax. With a medical marijuana authorization card, people can possess more marijuana than they can without one.

Comprehensive Marijuana Market Reforms (2136)
  • Permits local jurisdictions to reduce the buffer between marijuana businesses and community centers, transit centers, libraries, arcades, and child care centers from 1,000 feet to 100 feet. The 1,000 foot buffer between schools and marijuana businesses remains.
  • Allows retailers to have an additional sign identifying their business and trade name.
  • Prohibits consumption in a "public place" instead of "in view of the public".
  • Eliminates the 25% excise taxes on marijuana producers (growers) and processors and increases the excise tax on retail marijuana sales to 37%.
  • Provides some marijuana tax revenue to local jurisdictions based on retail sales and population.

Local Impact
  • More businesses: LCB likely will increase the number of marijuana business licenses for Seattle.
  • Smaller buffer zones: The City Council likely will reduce the 1,000 foot buffer between marijuana businesses and places where children frequently congregate.
  • Business clusters: Since most of Seattle is zoned as single family residential, which is off-limits for any marijuana business, marijuana businesses likely will continue to be clustered along large arterials and in only certain areas of the city.
  • Businesses in a few neighborhoods: In NE Seattle, areas that could see more marijuana businesses include the University District, Lake City, Northgate, and Jackson Park.
  • Continued public use: Since most tickets for using marijuana in public are given to people in the greater Downtown area, the public use definition change likely will have little impact on NE Seattle. It is unclear if the public place definition will change enforcement of the law during festivals like Hempfest.

What Prevention Science Tells Us
  • Research has repeatedly shown that the more places that sell alcohol, tobacco, and fast food in a community the more likely teenagers are to consume those products.
  • Research has repeatedly shown that taxes on cigarettes and alcohol decrease youth use of those products.
  • Substance use prevention coalitions are proven to reduce population-level adolescent drug use rates. This is especially true when schools that are part of coalitions implement evidence-based curricula, such as Life Skills Training and Project Alert.
  • Most teenagers who use alcohol and marijuana report getting the drugs socially, mostly from friends. 

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