Wednesday, December 9, 2015

More marijuana stores to be allowed in NE Seattle - Updated

Last month, Mayor Ed Murray proposed new zoning rules to loosen restrictions on where marijuana retail stores may be located in Seattle. Under the proposal, the 1,000-foot buffer around playgrounds and schools would remain in effect while buffers around other places frequented by children, such as day care centers, libraries, community centers, transit centers, and arcades, would be reduced to 500 feet, approximately 1-2 city blocks. The new rule would establish an additional 1,650 acres for retail locations. The proposal would also create a minimum distance of 500 feet between retail outlets.

What does that mean for NE Seattle?

With the proposal, the Mayor's Office released two maps: one showing the current zoning rules and possible locations for retail marijuana shops and one showing the additional areas that would be allowed under the proposed legislation. The map below shows the NE Seattle areas (in yellow) that would be appropriately zoned for marijuana stores under the proposal. 

Red Circle = 500'/1,000' buffer for existing marijuana retailers; Green Cross = 500'/1,000' buffer for existing medical marijuana retailers; Green Area = Areas where retail marijuana is not allowed under licensing restrictions; Grey Area = Areas where retail marijuana is not allowed under zoning restrictions; Yellow Area = Estimated areas where retail marijuana would be allowed.

If the proposal is adopted by the City Council, additional areas in NE Seattle that would be zoned appropriately for marijuana retailers are:
  • Along Lake City Way NE,
  • Around Northgate Mall, 
  • Around University Village, 
  • Along NE 45th Street and the beginning of Sand Point Way NE,
  • Along NE 55th Street. 
 The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, December 15.  

UPDATE 12/16/2015: The City Council Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee approved the proposal with an amendment allowing two pot shops to open next to one another. Publicola reported on the committee's debate regarding the impact of the policy on communities of color.

Friday, November 6, 2015

All sectors of the community have a role to play to prevent prescription drug abuse

Last month, the President hosted a community discussion on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. The forum focused on developing and implementing responses that involve all sectors of the community. The President announced two initiatives to address this problem: prescriber training and improving access to treatment.

 More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes and the majority of those overdoses involve prescription medications. Opioids are a class of prescription pain medications that includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs, and four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications.
This fact sheet was distributed through local pharmacies.
Locally, the Prevention WINS coalition and partners are doing their part to prevent prescription drug abuse. Prevention WINS reached out to area pharmacies asking them to post a flyer talking about preventing and reducing underage drug abuse by locking up and/or keeping track of  medications. The flyer has facts about teen prescription medicine abuse and resources for help.  Prevention WINS also asked the pharmacies to include a smaller version in the bags with the medicine dispensed.  Katterman's Pharmacy and the University Village QFC pharmacy agreed to post the flyers and include the inserts with the medications.   GroupHealth agreed to do this in nearly all their Washington GHC pharmacies.  The materials were distributed to the three pharmacies the last week of October.  Katterman's received 500 inserts, University QFC received 1,500 and Group Health received 3,000.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mercer Island teens talk about avoiding drug use

Hear students from Mercer Island's Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) pledge to prevent underage substance abuse.

Friday, October 23, 2015

"Why I Don't Smoke"

The Southeast Seattle P.E.A.C.E. Coalition and the Southeast Asian Young Men's Group at ACRS present: "Why I Don't Smoke."

Why I Don't Smoke from SE Asian Young Men's Group on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

President Obama calls for investments in drug prevention

Yesterday's New York Times included an article about drug addiction and President Obama's response to an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. "More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes," Mr. Obama said. "The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don't have to tell you, this is a terrible toll." The article goes on to say that "Mr. Obama said that far greater investments needed to be made in the prevention and treatment of addiction. The president, a former smoker, said that the continued decline in smoking rates showed that progress could be made against addiction."

Here in King County, overall treatment admissions for heroin have increased significantly over the past two years. Treatment admissions for meth have also increased. Among young adults ages 18 to 29, heroin and prescription opioids (painkillers) are the primary drugs among those entering treatment programs. For teenagers under the age of 18, marijuana remains the primary drug among those entering treatment programs.

Source: University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
Well-funded and evidence-based prevention programs and policies can reduce the need for treatment. Among Prevention WINS member organizations, Eckstein Middle School and Jane Addams Middle School implement evidence-based prevention programs among their students and families. Some of the programs depend on local funding, particularly the King County Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) program, which is currently going through a community input and review process to determine what programs should maintain funding after next year. Without continued MIDD funding for school-based prevention programs, this national call for more prevention investments is virtually meaningless.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

King County among handful of places in country with medicine return program

A recent article in the New York Times focuses on how it’s been a year since the DEA released its rule allowing pharmacies to take back leftover medicines, yet few pharmacies have implemented take-back programs.  Pharmacy medicine return sites provide a convenient way for people to dispose of unused and unwanted medications, decreasing the amount of medications that end up abused or in our waterways.

The article references the product stewardship law in King County that requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to finance and organize the take-back system, which provides the financing to allow pharmacies to host drop boxes. Prevention WINS members were strong supporters of the King County law and stand ready to publicize the program when it is up and running. 

One of the two plans submitted to King County, ReturnMeds LLC, will be fully implemented by mid-April 2016. The plan includes a list of places that will host drop boxes where people can return their unused and unwanted medications. In NE Seattle, the following locations likely will have drop boxes: