Friday, June 28, 2013

Webinar explains some solutions to underage drinking

In April, a webinar provided communities with information about some activities that have proven to prevent underage drinking.  National experts expanded on the shape of the solution to underage drinking introduced during the first webinar in a series hosted by several federal agencies. The discussions focused on evidence-based strategies for preventing underage drinking that are age and culturally appropriate and address both individual and environmental factors.  The full webinar may be viewed by clicking here and below are a few key slides.

The webinar started with Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, providing an overview of key prevention concepts.  She began with discussing risk & protective factors, how they contribute to substance use, and how communities can use them to identify prevention activities.

To be most effective in preventing youth substance use, multiple prevention activities must be implemented in a community.  Activities conducted during student transitions -- between elementary and middle school, between middle and high school, and between high school and college or work -- are especially important.

Prevention activities are important in all domains: individual, family, school, community, and society.

Community domain prevention activities include:

  • enforcement of laws meant to reduce access to alcohol and other drugs among youth;
  • minimum legal drinking age of 21;
  • increase in price/taxes;
  • reduce access to legal drugs by limiting retail outlet density, enacting tight regulations, and monitoring the implementation of drug-related policies;
  • advertising restrictions.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How marijuana business density can affect underage use and public health

Why have I been blogging about marijuana land use and zoning issues?  What does marijuana business density have to do with youth substance abuse prevention?

As the Prevention WINS letter to the Liquor Control Board regarding their I-502 initial draft rules says, multiple studies indicate that communities with a glut of tobacco and alcohol retail outlets experience higher rates of problematic use, including underage use, of tobacco and alcohol.  (See references at the end of this post.)

The comments go on to say: 

Neighborhoods should not be over-run with marijuana retail outlets.  This is of special concern in low income neighborhoods where socio-economic disparities related to substance abuse are evident. 

We recommend that the Board be more specific in determining the number of retail licenses in a certain geographic area.  By assigning a certain number by county only, the Board opens up the possibility of a disproportionate amount of those retail outlets being established in a small area within a county.  Specifically, when the Board determines how many retail licenses are to be allowed in King County, we are concerned that a disproportionate amount of those licensees will open stores in Seattle when they should be evenly distributed throughout the county.

Before the approval of Initiative 1183, when the Liquor Control Board considered adding liquor stores several factors were taken into consideration.  Information reviewed included data about demographics including population over 21, population that would turn 21 in the next five years, and overall population growth. Other factors included how much business current stores were doing and convenience to major populations (15 minute travel time to a store).  We suggest that the Board use similar demographic, population growth, and travel time parameters to determine where a marijuana retail store should be located.  By limiting marijuana retail outlets similar to how the Board limited liquor outlets, they will be evenly distributed among the state’s population, regardless of the socio-economic make-up of a community, and accessible to all who want to purchase marijuana.     

Here are a few of the studies about tobacco and alcohol retail outlet density:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

King County expresses concern about marijuana business density

The King County Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee met yesterday and an update about the implementation of I-502 was on their agenda.  Here are a few items discussed:

  • King County is in the process of establishing a “one-stop” webpage for all marijuana-related information.
  • Concerns were expressed re: zoning in unincorporated King County.  Joe McDermott is concerned about marijuana business density in White Center and others are concerned about marijuana business density in rural areas.  It is expected that King County will propose zoning legislation to address these concerns on or around August 15.  They are waiting to see what the LCB rules end up saying about land use and zoning.  They will include a map of how different areas of the county will likely be affected.
  • The Sheriff said that his officers are enforcing the no public consumption law but Seattle Police are not. 

Discussion about I-502 starts around 1:24:00. 

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Seattle City Attorney's comments to the Liquor Control Board include pot tourism and private pot clubs

The Liquor Control Board received more than 800 comments from the public regarding their initial draft rules for I-502 (marijuana legalization).  The letter from Prevention WINS may be viewed through the coalition website.

The Seattle City Attorney's letter is also available online and includes the following comments:

Promote Pot Tourism
We also support the Board's decision to permit nonresidents to purchase one ounce of marijuana at a retail store.  People travel to Washington for many reasons, and tourism is a significant industry within Seattle and throughout the state.  We want tourists to enjoy our beautiful outdoors, fresh produce, microbrews, fine wines, professional sports and entertainment.  We should similarly embrace marijuana tourism.  However, retailers must not oversell to non-residents so that marijuana might be taken across state lines.  I-502 does not prohibit nonresidents from traveling to Washington, purchasing marijuana from a licensed retailer, or consuming marijuana in the state, but we support Governor Inslee's promise that Washington State will not become "the country's export market for marijuana."  We need a strong partnership with law enforcement to extinguish the illegal market and properly regulate the new legal market. 

Public Consumption of Marijuana
I-502 prohibits opening "a package containing marijuana . . . in view of the general public."  It is not clear whether this limits marijuana use only to private residences or also allows it in establishments that may be private and not "in view of the general public" because the phrase "in view of the general public" is not defined in I-502.  For renters and tourists, allowing marijuana use in certain types of establishments other than private residences may be the only mechanism to enjoy marijuana.  This is both a race & social justice and an economic development issue.  Renters and tourists should not be forced to use marijuana in parks or on sidewalks.  We recommend that the Board study private clubs or similar accommodations and propose appropriate rules governing their establishment and regulation.  

Home Delivery of Marijuana
A careful reading of I-502 suggests that bicycle and truck deliveries are neither expressly permitted or prohibited.  We recommend that the Board study deliver services and propose draft regulatory rules.  

Retail Outlet Density
If like state liquor stores there will only be a limited number of retail stores, we may want to ensure better geographical coverage.  

Funding Needed
Finally, local governments must be able to share in the State's revenue.  Implementing and enforcing I-502 will be a costly venture for government at all levels from business licensing and zoning to law enfocement and other public health and safety considerations.  

Comments to the Liquor Control Board from King County may be read by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Notes from the Liquor Control Board work session on marijuana rules

WSLCB received negative
comments about this proposed
marijuana logo.
The Liquor Control Board held a work session last week to discuss public comments about the initial draft rules for a legal marijuana marketplace in our state.

At the beginning of the meeting, LCB members noted that after the draft rules are released on July 3 they will host four public forums for comments and that rules established this year are not "final and forever".  Just like liquor rules, it is expected that marijuana rules will change over time. 

Both LCB members and staff stated that it is important for people to read I-502 and proposed rules.  Some comments seem to have been made by individuals/organizations unfamiliar with the initiative and the initial draft rules.

Karen McCall, Rules Coordinator, provided the LCB with a summary of the more than 800 comments they received. 

From local jurisdictions (22 comments)

  • Revise some definitions;
  • Limit hours of sale;
  • Businesses must meet all local jurisdiction requirements and laws;
  • Advise them of the number of licenses that the LCB will be allowing in their jurisdictions;
  • Ban drive-thru stores, Internet sales, and home deliveries;
  • Ban products that appeal to youth;
  • Mandate child-proof packaging;
  • Allow jurisdictions to opt out of allowing marijuana businesses (law change needed);
  • Ban marijuana advertising.

The Seattle City Attorney requested that the LCB allow private marijuana clubs for tourists and to allow for home delivery of marijuana.

From substance abuse prevention advocates

  • Revise some definitions;
  • Locate stores similar to where liquor stores were located prior to I-1183;
  • Ban all advertising;
  • If advertising allowed, ban ads attractive to youth;
  • Ban home deliveries and Internet sales; 
  • Include hotline information on packaging;
  • Ban products that appeal to youth;
  • Cap grow sizes;
  • To buy marijuana people should have a WA identification;
  • Mandate a Responsible Vendor Program.

From stakeholders

  • Allow outdoor grows;
  • Allow extracts (law change needed);
  • Security requirements are excessive;
  • Home grows should be allowed if they were established before I-502;
  • Packaging requirements are excessive;
  • Residency rules are too stringent;
  • Controlling THC levels is unreasonable;
  • Producer licenses should be issued to current farmers first;
  • Third party transportation of marijuana should be allowed; 
  • Allow Internet sales;
  • Keep grow operations small.

Listen to the entire work session through the Liquor Control Board's YouTube channel.

Friday, June 21, 2013

King County Board of Health approves medicine return regulation

Great news from the King County Board of Health:

Yesterday, the King County Board of Health took a significant step towards reducing preventable deaths from drug overdoses by passing a Rule & Regulation to create a drug take-back system for King County residents. The program promotes the safe disposal of unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and will be funded and operated by the drug manufacturers who produce the medications.

Under the new program residents may dispose of unwanted medicines at pharmacies and other secure locations across the county for no charge. The new law will create only the second such system in the country. 

"Today's vote makes us the second jurisdiction in the nation to provide a safe and convenient way for residents to get rid of their unneeded medicines. I am proud of my fellow board members for passing this historic Rule & Regulation," said Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott. "The Board took strong action today to close a gap in the comprehensive response to misuse and abuse of medicines."

Board members recognized that more people die from overdoses due to prescription medicines than from heroin and cocaine combined and that most abusers of medicines get the pills from a friend or relative's medicine cabinet. In fact, 32% of child poisoning deaths in Washington were caused by someone else's prescription medication, and 26% were caused by over-the-counter medicines.

"The more effective solution to the drug abuse crisis is prevention," said Boardmember Dr. Bud Nicola. "Making it easy for residents to use a take-back system means fewer drugs in medicine cabinets, leading to fewer overdoses and poisonings."

“Requiring the drug manufacturers to pay for the disposal of their products is good product stewardship," said Boardmember and Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin. "A convenient take back system will keep drugs out of the hands of children and teenagers."

"This is a common sense solution to a problem we've known about for a long time," said Boardmember David Baker, Mayor of Kenmore. "This program is part of a comprehensive approach to address our community's drug overdose and poisoning epidemic."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Talking to your kids about avoiding alcohol

KING 5's Parent to Parent addressed the problem of teen drinking during today's segment:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Seattle City Council to vote on resolution supporting medicine return program

On Monday, the Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution "Supporting creation of a secure, convenient medicine return program in King County to reduce the public safety and environmental impacts of unwanted medicines." 

The resolution starts by stating:

WHEREAS, drug overdose deaths, abuse of prescription pain killers, and abuse of medicines by young people is a growing problem, and more people die of prescription medicines than all illegal drugs combined; and

WHEREAS, medicines used in the home are the leading cause of poisonings reported to the Washington Poison Center, and preventable poisonings from medicines have been rising rapidly, especially among children and seniors; and

WHEREAS, unwanted medicines left in the home contribute to opportunities for drug abuse, drug theft, and accidental poisonings; and . . .

The resolution was introduced by Councilmember Richard Conlin who is also a member of the King County Board of Health.  If you've been following this blog, you know that the Board will vote next week on policy that would establish a medicine return program.

Please consider thanking Councilmember Conlin for his support of policy that can help reduce youth medicine abuse. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prescription painkiller abuse linked to rise in heroin use in Washington

According to a report recently released by the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI), Washington 10th grade students who abuse prescription painkillers are more likely to have tried heroin than students who had not abused painkillers.  The chart below illustrates the connection between prescription painkillers and heroin use among 10th grade students.

This is especially troubling in NE Seattle because over the past six years teenagers in our community have increasingly reported that they abuse prescription drugs.

The ADAI study also reports that heroin use has more than doubled over the past ten years in people under 30 in our state.  Along with that use comes an increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for heroin among young adults ages 18 to 29 years old. 

One way to prevent heroin use among young adults is to prevent prescription drug abuse among teenagers.  The Prevention WINS coalition educates parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and advises them to monitor and lock up their medications.  Families should also dispose of unused medicines.  The most environmentally-friendly and safe way to dispose of unused medicines is to take advantage of medicine return programs that, in NE Seattle, are offered at Group Health and at some Bartell drug stores.

Since medicine return programs are not available consistently throughout the county, the King County Board of Health is considering adopting a policy that would establish a permanent program funded and implemented by drug manufacturers.  The Board will vote on the proposed policy during their June 20 meeting.  Prevention WINS is a member of the King County Take Back Your Meds Coalition and supports the proposed policy.

Seattle premier of "A Clean UA" June 19

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) and Neighborhood House present:

The Seattle Premier of "A CLEAN UA"

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
5:00 p.m. followed by a reception
Rainier Valley Cultural Center
3515 S Alaska Street, Seattle

A Clean UA is a documentary short by the Southeast Asian Young Men's Group. The film follows Peter Phan, a 17-year-old Vietnamese American, as he decides to quit marijuana. Using a hand held camera, Peter journals the difficulties and challenges of his path to recovery while exploring the benefits of being sober.

Earlier this year when the video producers were raising money for the project, the trailer below was shared with the community.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A medicine return program in King County?

On June 20, the King County Board of Health will vote on a proposed policy that would establish a permanent, county-wide medicine return program using a product stewardship model.  A product stewardship model recognizes that everyone involved in the lifespan of medications has a responsibility to reduce its health and safety impacts.  For producers of medicines, this includes planning and paying for the disposal of medicines at the end of their useful life.

Prior to voting, the Board of Health is required to hold a public hearing.  Advocates in favor of a medicine return program as part of a comprehensive strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse among teens are encouraged to provide two minutes of testimony.  For more information, please contact the Prevention WINS coordinator.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weed gardening in Seattle

On June 10, the Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposed ordinance relating to land use and zoning for marijuana-related activities.  The Council's Marijuana in Seattle webpage provides more information.

Marijuana agricultural size limitation
The proposed ordinance states that "indoor agricultural operations" for growing marijuana "greater than 10,000 square feet are prohibited."

Marijuana business location restrictions
It also states that "The production, processing, selling, and delivery of marijuana, marijuana-infused products, or useable marijuana that involve more than 45 marijuana plants, 72 ounces of useable marijuana, or an amount of marijuana-infused product that could reasonably be produced with 72 ounces of useable marijuana, may not be conducted in association with business establishments or dwellings located in" single and multi-family zones; Downtown; and several landmark districts including the "Sand Point Overlay District."

Recreational vs. medical marijuana gardens
What the ordinance does not do is differentiate between individual personal medical marijuana gardens and recreational marijuana gardens.  According to a map prepared by the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development, this leaves the entire City open for all (medical and recreational) personal gardens of up to 45 marijuana plants.  Several neighborhood associations have contacted the City Council asking them to delay their June 10 vote until this issue is reviewed further by community members.

According to Initiative 502, personal recreational marijuana gardens are illegal and all recreational marijuana-related activities must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, child care centers, parks, and other places frequented by children.