Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What parents should know about marijuana products

Since releasing the underage marijuana prevention booklet for parents, a few youth substance abuse prevention advocates contacted me asking for information to share with parents about marijuana products other than the kind that is smoked.  They are concerned with what they witness in their communities – teenagers eating high-THC marijuana  food products and suffering mental health problems and ingesting highly concentrated hash oil and ending up in the hospital. 

With that in mind, here is what I know.  (Since I am learning something new about marijuana almost every day, please email me additional information if I am not up-to-date.)

Marijuana-infused cake pops
Each contains 111 mg THC
What are marijuana-infused foods?
Over the past year, I blogged about marijuana-infused foods several times.  Most recently on July 3 and September 10.

According to the newly-adopted I-502 rules, a serving size will contain up to10 milligrams of THC and a package can contain up to 10 servings.  This means that one package of a marijuana-infused food can contain up to 100 mg of THC.  If children, including teenagers, get their hands on these foods and do not read or abide by the serving size information, they may ingest a great deal of THC.  This is especially a concern because the effects of marijuana that is eaten may not be felt for 90 minutes or more.  If someone eats marijuana-infused foods and doesn’t feel high right away, they may eat more.

A recent article appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association - Pediatrics describes an increase in marijuana food-related hospital emergency visits among young children in Colorado.  A Health Impact Assessment about marijuana ingestion among children was conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health and Children's Hospital Colorado.

What is hash oil?
Rolling Stone magazine recently published a short article about hash oil.  Here is an excerpt:

Unless you spend a lot of time in medical-state dispensaries, you probably haven't encountered the latest superstrong stoner craze: butane-extracted hash oil (BHO). How potent is it? A chunk of the stuff the size of a Tic Tac can be the equivalent of hoovering up an entire joint in one massive toke. Even for hardcore smokers, the experience – which fans call dabbing – can be like getting high for the very first time. Your head spins, your eyes get fluttery, a few beads of sweat surface on your forehead and, suddenly, you're cosmically baked.

Cannabis Cup
Second Place: "Best Concentrate"

Contains 58.5% THC
BHO . . . comes in a variety of consistencies: from hard, amber-like stuff ("shatter") to soft, golden goop ("budder" or "earwax").

The recent Cannabis Cup held in Seattle gave out awards for the best marijuana products, including “concentrates”.  Wax, oil, and shatter fall under the "concentrate" category.

A recent post to the Prevention Hub brings up concerns about youth using e-cigarettes as e-joints. 

Smoking marijuana in liquid and wax forms out of e-cigarettes is a new alarming trend gaining popularity amongst young people. Worryingly, marijuana smoked that way does not produce an odour or a flame, making it harder to detect. . . .While there is no data on how many teens are using e-cigarettes to smoke marijuana, a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high schools students doubled from 2011 to 2012 (5% to 10%). . . . Experts say drugs and drug products made for people using marijuana legally are increasingly finding their way to those who are using them illegally.

In New York it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.  A news report describes how one person used an e-cigarette to consume marijuana undetected during a long train ride.

Hash oil & I-502
I-502 does not include hash oil and other concentrates as legal marijuana products that can be sold in stores.  Recognizing that concentrates have become increasingly popular among marijuana consumers, the Washington State Liquor Control Board recently submitted a request to the state legislature that they change I-502 to include "extract products" as products that are legal to sell in retail stores. 

Want more information about marijuana products?
Analytics 360 is a marijuana testing lab located in Fremont.  Their website includes a section about test results.  It lists and shows pictures of marijuana products including flowers, concentrates, edibles, liquids, and topicals.  Visit their website to get a better understanding of what marijuana products can be expected in I-502 licensed stores when they open next year.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A parent's guide to preventing underage marijuana use

The booklet is written by Dr. Leslie Walker, Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Kevin Haggerty, Associate Director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington.  Dr. Walker is a leader in adolescent medicine, especially adolescent substance abuse, and Dr. Haggerty is a leader in adolescent substance abuse prevention. 

The booklet includes information about:
~ Marijuana and teen health.
~ What parents can do to prevent teen marijuana use.
~ What the new law means for minors.

The goal of the booklet is to provide parents of children in grades 6-8 with tools they can use to prevent underage marijuana use.  Messages are prevention-oriented and are similar to what parents learn in Guiding Good Choices.  

The booklet is not a drug education resource.  It does not contain information about specific types of marijuana products.  A good source for drug education resources is the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute's marijuana website and clearinghouse

Page 8 of the guide includes a few resources that parents may access for more information.  It is by no means an exhaustive list and it focuses on NE Seattle.  It was intentionally kept short so that people could write in or affix stickers with their local resources.    

For more information about the booklet, please contact the Prevention WINS coordinator.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

King County Board of Health Subcommittee wins state prevention award

Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen and Miss
Washington Reina Almon present Mayor David Baker
with prevention award.

The King County Board of Health Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return is the recipient of a Washington State Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Award in the Local Government category.  Board of Health member David Baker, mayor of Kenmore, received the award on behalf of the subcommittee at an awards event held October 21 during the Washington State Prevention Summit in Yakima.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen bestowed the award stating:

“The adoption of a secure medicine return program in King County is part of a multi-pronged strategy for preventing youth medicine abuse. It goes hand-in-hand with coalition and community-based educational activities; the statewide prescription monitoring program; law enforcement efforts to break up illegal sales of medications; and national campaigns teaching people to lock up their medications.  As with all substance abuse prevention, multiple partners are needed to be most effective.  The King County Board of Health's Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return is a perfect example of government playing their part in prevention.”

The Subcommittee on Secure Medicine Return developed a rule and regulation to establish a secure medicine return program in King County that will reduce the amount of unused and unwanted medicines in homes and be part of a comprehensive, community-wide strategy for preventing youth substance abuse.  King County is only the second jurisdiction in the United States to adopt medicine return program using a product stewardship model that requires pharmaceutical companies doing business in the county to implement and pay for it. 

To learn more about the Secure Medicine Return program, visit

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Resources for parents for preventing teen drug use

Last night, a group of NE Seattle parents whose children attend Eckstein Middle School and Roosevelt High School got together to socialize, connect, and share information.  The group has been getting together for several years -- ever since a few of them took a Guiding Good Choices class at Eckstein.  Guiding Good Choices, and other evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs for parents, encourages parents to stay connected with one another and to support each other in keeping their children away from drugs.

The Prevention WINS coalition offers a variety of drug prevention "tools" for parents.  Videos featuring Dr. Leslie Walker are among them.  Here is one about networking with other parents.

Online Resources

· includes a Parenting Tips & Tools page

 ·         Facebook: helps parents stay connected

Classes & Guest Speakers

·         Parenting programs at Eckstein Middle School including Guiding Good Choices and the Strengthening Families Program.  

·         Start Talking Now –presentations for parents of 5th grade students in NE Seattle.  Prevention needs to start early and is especially important during transitions, such as the transition into middle school. 

·         Sex, Drugs & Facebook – information for parents of middle school, high school, and college students about social media and drugs and how to promote healthy Internet use.

Print ResourcesA Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use  (To be posted to by 11/15/13.) 

For more information about any of these resources, please contact the Prevention WINS coordinator.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Online alcohol advertising impacts underage drinking

From the Prevention Hub:

This recent review of latest research highlights the huge immediate and longer term impact of online alcohol marketing on young people. It can result in drinking larger quantities, drinking at an earlier age, drinking more frequently and binge drinking. One study found that the effect of online alcohol advertising was almost twice as strong as that of traditional marketing. Two others highlight the informal influence of social media where young people see intoxicated friends and where drinking is perceived as the norm. Furthermore, such marketing and informal influences are largely unregulated or only self-regulated by the alcohol and advertising industries. We have covered many other studies emphasizing these problems and the particular vulnerability of young people.

Here in Seattle, Dr. Megan Moreno and the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team conduct research about the impact of social media on college student's substance use.  

The Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth also provides information about the effects of online alcohol advertising on adolescents.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Preventing underage marijuana use: What we can learn from tobacco prevention funding

"Fifteen years after tobacco companies agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines in what is still the largest civil litigation settlement in U.S. history, it's unclear how state governments are using much of that money," according to a recent NPR story.

The story goes on to report about what happened to tobacco settlement funds that were supposed to go toward tobacco prevention programs.  For instance in Mississippi, "What happened as the years went by, legislators come and go, and governors come and go . . . so we got a new governor and he had a new opinion about the tobacco trust fund . . . So a trust fund that should have $2.5 billion in it now doesn't have much at all . . ." 

"And it's not just Mississippi . . . all across the country hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to states, and the state have made choices not to spend money on public health and tobacco prevention."

Tobacco funding in Washington
Washington State is no different.  As the following chart from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids shows, only a fraction of the total state tobacco revenue -- from the Tobacco Settlement agreement and tobacco taxes -- is spent on prevention.

From the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Historically, Washington funded tobacco prevention largely through the Tobacco Prevention and Control Account, which included a portion of the revenue raised by a 2001 voter-approved 60 cent per pack cigarette tax increase. The ballot initiative dedicated the new revenue to the state’s Basic Health Plan, to tobacco prevention and cessation, and other existing programs that were already funded with tobacco tax revenue. The initiative required the state to spend at least $26.24 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation beginning July 1, 2002.  In the 2009 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature changed this law and diverted tobacco tax money to the general fund.  

Marijuana revenue: Will history repeat?
Last week, I blogged about how our state plans to spend marijuana revenue dedicated for teen drug abuse prevention.  However, there is no guarantee that these funds will not be diverted to the state's general fund in a few years.  Though influential people and lawmakers currently say that underage marijuana prevention is essential for making our new marijuana system work, especially considering the U.S. Department of Justices guidelines, there is nothing preventing a reversal of course in a few years.

With the elimination of our state's Community Mobilization program, it's clear that the legislature does not prioritize teen drug abuse prevention even if the availability of the second most commonly used drug among teens is about to increase significantly.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 26 is National Drug Take-Back Day

Though the King County Board of Health passed a secure medicine return regulation earlier this year, the program is not yet up and running.  In Seattle, Group Health pharmacies and some Bartell Drugs Pharmacies serve as temporary medicine drop-off places.  On October 26, the DEA is offering one more way to get rid of unused and unwanted medicines from households.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
Saturday, October 26, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
All Seattle Police precincts

Help publicize the event!
The WA Take Back Your Meds Coalition website includes several promotional materials that can be distributed at workplaces, public places like libraries and community centers, and other places where people will read them.  Share the information with family and friends!

Ridding homes of unused and unwanted medications is one way that we can prevent youth medicine abuse.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What prevention programs will be funded with marijuana revenue?

How will marijuana revenue earmarked to fund youth substance abuse prevention be spent?  This was the topic of a community forum hosted by the Washington Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery (DBHR) in Seattle last week.

First of all, revenue from marijuana taxes will go to fund the Liquor Control Board to run the marijuana system; the Healthy Youth Survey; cost-benefit analysis of the legal marijuana system and its impacts on our state; and web-based public education.

After these items are funded, a variety of other things will be funded, including youth substance abuse prevention.

Prevention funding will go to already established coalitions funded by DBHR; to Native American tribes that receive prevention funding; and to establish new coalitions in communities at high risk for youth marijuana use.

In Seattle, two established coalitions receive funding from DBHR -- one in the Garfield High School community and one in the Aki Kurose Middle School community.

As the plan stands right now, no money will be allocated for school-based prevention-intervention counselors or prevention programs unless a DBHR-funded coalition exists in the school's community.

The full presentation may be viewed by clicking here and the handouts may be viewed by clicking here.

City Council expresses concern about potential clustering of marijuana stores

Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council sent a letter to the Liquor Control Board about restrictions included in I-502 that they fear will result in "limited areas of Seattle being available for retail sales."  The letter was sent on the same day that the Council passed an ordinance that even further restricts where marijuana businesses may be located in Seattle.

The letter says that " . . . the proposed rules for marijuana retail licenses states that should the number of eligible applications exceed the allotted amount of retail locations in a city (21 in Seattle), licenses will be granted by lottery."

"Should there be more than 21 eligible retail applications in Seattle, and the licenses are granted by lottery, this could potentially result in clustering of retail sales in a few areas, and other eligible areas having no retail locations."

"Should a lottery result in a lack of geographic dispersion of retail locations within Seattle, this could make fulfilling the goals of I-502 more difficult."

In northeast Seattle, marijuana businesses most likely will be located near Northgate Mall where I-5 and Northgate Way intersect and in different areas along Lake City Way NE.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

City Council passes marijuana business zoning ordinance

Yesterday, the Seattle City Council passed a zoning and land use ordinance regarding where marijuana businesses may be located in Seattle.  Marijuana businesses only will be allowed in large commercial and industrial zones.  Historic districts and areas around the stadiums are out of bounds.  The size of marijuana businesses located in areas heavy with port-related businesses will be limited.

In addition to this ordinance, marijuana businesses must abide by restrictions to be put in place by the Liquor Control Board.  Marijuana businesses will not be allowed 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds, libraries, and other places where minors congregate.

The Seattle ordinance also states that ALL marijuana businesses -- it does not distinguish between recreational and medical marijuana businesses -- must be licensed by the state by January 2015.  Unless the state legislature establishes a licensing program for medical marijuana businesses, this means that Seattle medical marijuana businesses will need to obtain licenses from the Liquor Control Board.  As of right now, the Liquor Control Board plans to license 21 marijuana retailers in Seattle.

Monday, October 7, 2013

County & City make comments about proposed marijuana rules

Last week, comments about proposed marijuana rules were submitted to the Liquor Control Board by King County and the Seattle City Attorney.

King County comments
Among their comments, King County recommended that the Liquor Control Board could strengthen their final rules by addressing:

"1) Preventing youth access and use (Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors).  The priority can be addressed if the Board:

- Further strengthens packaging/labeling and accompanying materials language (including rotating health warnings) to ensure parents, other adults and youth understand health risks to youth and children, for both usable and infused marijuana products,

. . . - Limits advertising in a manner that is consistent with alcohol advertisement restrictions."  

". . . 3) Minimizing disproportionate siting and neighborhood impacts by avoiding siting of multiple businesses in close proximity to one another, with particular emphasis on equitable distribution of risks and benefits of legalization."

All King County comments may be read by clicking here.

Seattle City Attorney comments
While King County asked that the Liquor Control Board limit marijuana retail density, the Seattle City Attorney expressed concern that there will not be enough marijuana retail stores in Seattle.

". . . The one additional issue we want to highlight is ensuring that the number of licensed dispensers is sufficient to meet demand . . . we ask that the Board carefully monitor supply and demand for recreational marijuana as soon as the licensed dispensers begin sales and consider issuing additional licenses later in 2014 for dispensers in Seattle if the 21 initial licenses are insufficient to meet demand in our city."

Seattle City Council ordinance
Later today, the Seattle City Council will once again take up an ordinance regarding where marijuana businesses may be located in Seattle.  The proposed ordinance would restrict marijuana businesses to large commercial and industrial areas, excluding historical districts.  Combined with Liquor Control Board rules requiring a 1,000 foot buffer between marijuana businesses and schools, playgrounds, and other places where minors congregate, potential places for marijuana businesses to be located are rather limited in Seattle.    Areas dense with marijuana businesses may be unavoidable.

Public hearing
The Liquor Control Board is hosting a public hearing about their proposed rules tomorrow, October 8, 6-9:00 p.m. at Seattle City Hall.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Another story about underage drinking in Seattle parks

Earlier this week, I blogged about underage drinking in the Arboretum.  The Prevention WINS coalition recently completed a video about underage drinking at Golden Gardens and Magnuson Park.  Yesterday, KING 5 broadcast a story about youth drug use and underage drinking in a West Seattle park.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

City Council requests regulation of medical marijuana market

On Monday, the Seattle City Council sent a letter to Governor Inslee, Senator Kohl-Welles, and Representative Goodman regarding "cannabis regulation and successful implementation of Initiative 502".  Here are a few excepts:

"Regulations for cannabis for general adult use will soon be in place through the implementation of Initiative 502, but the production and distribution of medical cannabis continues to operate in, at best, a gray market.  Medical cannabis dispensaries have proliferated across Seattle.  While many of their clients live with conditions ameliorated by medical cannabis, the vast majority do not and would be better served through the access made possible by Initiative 502.  If relatively easy access to medical cannabis continues, the goals and potential of Initiative 502 will be undermined."  

"We believe it is in the best interests of Seattle and the state to coordinate and improve regulation of the entire cannabis market, medical and recreational.  This could mean combining the general adult cannabis market and the medical cannabis market into a single, regulated system." 

". . . We also ask that you ensure there are sufficient resources available for local law enforcement to curtail activities outside the regulatory environment."  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Underage drinking in Seattle parks

Last week, the Garfield High School principal sent a message to parents that started like this:

Do you know where your son or daughter is at tonight? I spent the afternoon with Officer Radford and many other officers walking through the Arboretum. One hundred or more Garfield students were participating in hazing incidents, drinking hard alcohol and beer.

Underage drinking in our city's parks is not unique to the Arboretum and Garfield High School.  As the video posted to the Prevention WINS website homepage illustrates, it is not unusual for large numbers of north end high school students to congregate at Golden Gardens and Magnuson Park and drink.

Since this incident is gaining quite a bit of media attention, I hope our community can emerge from it with a few lessons learned.  One of them being that underage drinking is preventable.

Parents have a role to play
In his message to parents, the Garfield High School principal asks: As I email you tonight I asked the question do you know where your son or daughter is at? I ask that question because I want you to know that we all have a responsibility to keep our kids safe.  

Knowing where your child is and with whom is one important step parents can take to prevent underage drinking.  Setting consequences for not telling the truth about where they are is essential.  Following up on consequences if rules are broken is equally important.

Community members have a role to play
When teens are drinking in pubic places, they are bound to be seen by adults.  Community members should call 9-1-1 and report underage drinking and marijuana use.  Adults shouldn't attempt to break up large teen gatherings where drinking and drug use is taking place, but calling police is important for breaking up parties and preventing future parties.

Local institutions have a role to play
Seattle Police can break up underage drinking parties in parks.  Seattle policy makers and leaders can support police efforts by allocating funding for emphasis patrols in parks Friday and Saturday evenings.  The juvenile justice system can make sure minors who are referred to them for minor in possession violations go to alcohol education or are referred to substance abuse treatment, if needed.

These are just a few examples of what can be done to prevent teen drug use.  Underage drinking and drug use is a community problem and every community member has a role to play.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

In 2011, President Obama issued the first-ever Presidential Proclamation designating October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. The tradition will continue in 2013, as parents, youth, schools, businesses, and community leaders across the country join in this month long observance of the role that substance abuse prevention plays in promoting safe and healthy communities.

Recognizing that everyone has a role to play, the Substance Abuse Prevention Month website includes ideas for ways that community members, including youth, parents, and businesses, can promote substance abuse prevention.   

Parents and organizations that work with parents are encouraged to visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse's new online toolkit for parents. The online resource, Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse, uses videos and information to highlight parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.