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

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


National & federal


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  

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.

  • 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.

  • 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

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

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. 

Governor briefed on state marijuana prevention activities

Decreasing the percentage of 10th grade students who report smoking marijuana in the past 30 days from 19.3% to 18% by 2017 is one of Results Washington's goals for creating healthy communities.  In addition to preventing marijuana DUIs, state leaders briefed Governor Inslee on this goal during a meeting on September 24.

The discussion about youth marijuana use prevention starts at about 1:12 of the video.  The secretaries of the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Health provide an overview of current and planned prevention activities.  

At about 1:43 the governor asked a question about marijuana-infused foods to ensure they are not overly attractive to youth.  Rick Garza from the Liquor Control Board said that they are not allowing products that are:
  • brightly colored;
  • sugar coated;
  • anything that is "typically what a child would see and find appealing;"
  • mimicking candy bars.
He also said that the medical marijuana law needs to be changed to address marijuana-infused foods because they are currently not regulated under state law.
Medical marijuana is the "wild west" right now according to the governor.  Mr. Garza confirmed that there are no regulations on medical marijuana products that are attractive to youth. 

The governor also asked about the use of fear tactics in marijuana prevention campaigns.  Mona Johnson from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction replied that many years of prevention science research shows that scare tactics do not work and that prevention programs today don't use them.  The importance of educating parents about prevention was also discussed. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Marijuana ads mimic tobacco ads

A Prevention WINS coalition member recently sent me the photo below of a marijuana producer's billboard in Seattle.

It looks like marijuana businesses are using the same strategies tobacco and alcohol businesses use to attract consumers.

The Liquor Control Board provided marijuana businesses with information about how marijuana may be advertised.  Their online FAQ provides answers to a variety of questions.  Below are a few.

Online Advertising

May I have a website to promote my company? Are there any limitations on a company website?
Yes you may have a website to advertise your business. However, the law does not allow a business to use a website to sell marijuana/marijuana products. All recreational marijuana sales must take place at a licensed marijuana premises.

Can I use social media to promote my business?
Yes. Please use social media with caution and be mindful not to appeal to, or solicit, viewers under the age of 21. If possible, please restrict views to adults age 21 and older.

May I hire an online advertising company to promote my business through blog posts and other online options like videos?

Am I able to produce a YouTube page with comedy commercials promoting my marijuana business?
Yes. Please use social media with caution and to be mindful not to appeal to, or solicit, viewers under the age of 21. If possible, please restrict views to adults age 21 and older.

Am I able to have a mascot in the YouTube commercial?
Yes, as long as the mascot is not a cartoon character or is appealing to children.
Traditional Advertising

May I set up a separate business to promote my marijuana retail store?
Yes. That would be allowed if the business is used to sell t-shirts, hats etc. Those items, however, could not be sold within your retail marijuana store.

May I advertise for cannabis on the radio and TV?
The law states that licensed marijuana producers, processors and retailers “may not advertise marijuana or marijuana-infused products in any form through any medium whatsoever within one-thousand feet of the perimeter of a school ground, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park or library, or any game arcade admission to which is not restricted to persons aged twenty-one years or older.” The fine is $1,000 for each violation.

Although print media, such as newspapers, are often delivered to locations at or near schools, the LCB does not intend to enforce the 1,000’ buffer for newspaper advertising as long as the advertising does not violate other provisions of I-502.

Television and radio, of course, carry across state lines as well as places where children can see or hear. TV and radio are also regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Licensees should consult with their attorney and media-buyer or other advertising sales representative to ensure cannabis/related advertisements are permissible.

May I advertise in non-cannabis magazines and publications?
Yes, as long as the publications in question are not marketed towards children or people under the age of 21.

May I cross promote my business with a neighboring business (items such as glasses, t-shirts, lighters etc.)?
Yes, and vice versa.

May I use direct mail to households and inserts delivered via the Seattle Times and other publications?
Yes. Inserts may not contain coupons.

Branded Merchandise

May I sell t-shirts with my company’s trade name and logo on them in my retail store?
A licensee is not permitted to sell t-shirts from their retail store or business website. A separate business is necessary to sell items beyond what is allowed under I-502.

Could a separate entity (separate LLC, operating close-by) sell branded merchandise?

If pot is "everywhere" is it the new normal for kids growing up in Seattle?

"So under the new law it's prohibited to smoke pot in public, but do you feel like there's pot everywhere now?"  That question launched a discussion about public marijuana use during KCTS' recent look at legal marijuana.   The answer was unanimously: "Yes!"

If the smell of marijuana cannot be escaped in our city, what message does that send to our kids?  Is the smell of marijuana the new normal for young people growing up in Seattle?  Earlier this year, I blogged about how community norms impact teen use of the drug.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Marijuana shop opens next to church with three youth groups

Seattle's second recreational marijuana store opened last week and on Sunday members of the church next door started to protest its location.

The store opened at the corner of 23rd and Union and the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog (CHS) noted that they previously identified the likelihood of 23rd and Union becoming a fertile ground for Seattle pot ventures as one of the few areas that would qualify for a license under state rules and city zoning.”

“But Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell tells CHS he is beginning a review of how the shop was allowed to open at the intersection in such close proximity to the church. Harrell said there is nothing yet on the City Council’s calendar but that he is beginning the process this week.” 

Under state law, a marijuana business cannot be located within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, libraries, community centers, and other places where children congregate.  The rule does not apply to churches.  That is concerning to church members since three youth groups meet next door to the store according to the church’s pastor.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Marijuana cafes in Seattle?

Marijuana tourism is the topic of a recent segment of Seattle Channel's City Stream.  Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata is interviewed and states that marijuana and smoking laws need to be adjusted to allow for marijuana cafes in the city.

If you are unable to watch the video through this blog, you can watch it on the Seattle Channel.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Learn more about marijuana-infused candy bars and other edible products

Marijuana-infused foods that have been sold as medical marijuana are soon to hit the shelves of recreational marijuana stores in WA.  KCTS broadcast a series of stories about the medical and recreational marijuana systems in our state.  The one focusing on edibles includes a brief discussion about children and marijuana-infused foods like cherry soda, chocolate bars, and candies. A former Prevention WINS co-chair is interviewed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Marijuana paraphernalia and foods confiscated in public schools last year

For the first time ever, last school year Seattle Public Schools filled the safe in which they keep drug-related items confiscated from students.  And they filled one new cabinet.

As of mid-May 2014, Seattle Public Schools data show that 758 drug/alcohol violations were reported.  Violations increased between mid-May and the end of the school year, especially around prom and graduation.  (Data for the entire 2013-14 school year is not yet available.)  Among the violations, 107 were alcohol offenses and 651 were drug offenses -- 98% of which involved marijuana, mostly alone but some in combination with other drugs.  Violations took place at all three levels: 3 were in elementary school, 204 were in middle school, and 551 were in high school.

Another first: last school year was the first time that vaporizing devices for nicotine and/or THC were confiscated.  Edible marijuana products that were bought, not baked at home, also were confiscated.  Marijuana-infused items included lollipops and candy bars likely produced for the medical marijuana market.  Some students who ate marijuana-infused foods overdosed on them while at school.  

Below are some of the "vape pens" and edibles confiscated.

Friday, September 12, 2014

General coalition meeting next week

Prevention WINS will meet:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
8:00 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School

Agenda items include:

  • Drafted community adolescent substance use prevention plan
  • 2014-15 action plan
  • Show & Tell: Marijuana products & paraphernalia confiscated by schools last year

Everyone concerned about youth drug use in NE Seattle is welcome to attend.  For more information please email us!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New federal rules can make prescription drug disposal more convenient

Until this week, the federal Controlled Substances Act restricted who can dispose of unwanted prescription drugs/controlled substances.  People who wanted to rid themselves of unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances could give them to law enforcement.  Most people flushed their unused drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet.  Pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals were banned from accepting them. 

These limitations made it difficult for people to get rid of their prescription medications in a way that is both safe for people and the environment often resulting in the accumulation of the substances in home medicine cabinets.  Since home medicine cabinets are easily accessible to teenagers, these drugs can be easily obtained for abuse, diversion (sharing, selling), and accidental poisoning. 

To make it easier for people to safely rid their homes of unwanted prescription drugs, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act was enacted in 2010.  Between then and now, the Drug Enforcement Agency has been developing rules to guide the Act’s implementation.  Their rules were released this week and include the following:

1. People may get rid of unwanted prescription drugs through:
  • Take-back events;
  • Mail-back programs;
  • Collection receptacles. 

2. In addition to law enforcement agencies, the following organizations can collect prescription drugs:
  • Drug manufacturers and distributors;
  • Narcotic treatment programs;
  • Hospitals/clinics with on-site pharmacies;
  • Retail pharmacies.

The rules define how these organizations can collect and dispose of the drugs they collect.  The rules do not mandate any of these options so organizations and communities will need to take the lead in establishing programs voluntarily.  

This is good news for King County’s secure medicine return program which calls for retail pharmacies to have collection receptacles placed in their businesses, allowing for people to dispose of their medications where they likely obtained them.  This is also good news for communities that want to establish take-back programs locally in partnership with organizations other than law enforcement.  

More information about the new rules, including a fact sheet for the general public, is available through the DEA website.