Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jul 2014
Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)
Copyright: 2014 Bellingham Herald
Note:  The Olympian editorial


The brave new world of state-regulated recreational marijuana retail 
sales began this week. For the first time in the state of 
Washington's history, adults can purchase marijuana for private, 
non-medical use - and do it legally.

Those who advocated to end the era of marijuana prohibition will 
celebrate this historic moment. But other people worry whether more 
of today's potent marijuana will find its way into the possession of 
people under the age of 21, for whom it remains illegal.

If the recent underage alcohol sales compliance check by the Thurston 
County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Target Zero Task Force is any 
indication, we should be worried.

During a check of 30 Tumwater locations licensed to sell beer, wine 
and spirits, undercover operatives were able to purchase alcoholic 
beverages at 12, or 40 percent. That's shameful. The state Liquor 
Control Board, which can discipline repeat offenders and suspend 
their licenses, should monitor those stores closely.

The LCB should apply an equally rigorous scrutiny to the state's new 
pot retailers. Such a high violation rate by pot retailers could 
easily derail the entire marijuana legalization movement.

Of course, even vigilant retailer sellers haven't stopped teens from 
getting beer. There are always irresponsible and willing adults 
around who will buy booze for kids.

It's apparently no different in the world of marijuana. A study 
conducted among Colorado teens in substance abuse treatment programs, 
found that 74 percent of them got their pot from people with medical 
marijuana certificates.

The best method of keeping marijuana, and other substances, out of 
our children's hands is still education.

Young people must be told in an effective way about the dangers of 
marijuana to brain development, addiction and mental health issues. 
"Reefer Madness"-type scare tactics won't work. Sensible 
anti-tobacco-style campaigns do work.

Voters approved Initiative 502 partly because it mandated that 60 
percent of the new revenues from the state's marijuana market be 
dedicated to substance-abuse prevention programs, and 
marijuana-related research, education and health care. Only 40 
percent goes to the state's general fund.

For the sake of our kids, the Legislature must keep it hands off that money.

Unfortunately, legislators didn't set aside any money this year to a 
launch pot prevention campaign in advance of marijuana stores 
opening, and no tax money will flow into state coffers until sales 
get underway. Kudos to Gov. Jay Inslee for directing the state 
Department of Health to divert $400,000 of its existing budget to get 
a campaign underway - it's a little late, but better than never.

Of course, parents must play an important role in educating their 
children about marijuana, and that includes keeping any edibles at 
home securely out of their reach. Colorado experienced a surge of 
hospital visits by children who accidentally ate pot-laced treats.

Part of our responsibility for leading the nation in recreational 
marijuana involves keeping it out of the hands of underage people. 
That must be one of our highest priorities.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom