Friday, July 11, 2014

WA House Committee updated about the implementation of I-502

Earlier this week, the Washington House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee held a work session about the implementation of I-502.  For a limited time, a recording of the session may be viewed online.

From a youth substance use prevention point of view, a few discussion items stuck out.

  • Marijuana business owners repeatedly stated that the medical marijuana market and the recreational marijuana market should not co-exist.  One said that the medical marijuana market "is the black market" and another one called it a "free for all."  They agreed that the medical marijuana market is going to be a problem for I-502 businesses.
  • A few people talked about the need for preventing youth marijuana use and said that children and parents need to know about the negative affects of the drug on the developing brain.  Nobody talked about how policy is a key part of a comprehensive prevention strategy.  
  • The University of Washington is conducting research on the impact of I-502 retail stores on the communities in which they are located.  The research will be conducted in King County and look at youth use rates, crime  rates, and economic impact.  Representative Hurst wondered if marijuana stores will really have much of an impact on communities since we already have "a saturated market" and people who want marijuana can easily get it. 
  • Throughout the work session it was obvious that most people think that the marijuana system is going to change a great deal over the years.  Just like the alcohol system, rules will change.  Liquor Control Board Director Garza predicted that more marijuana business licenses, including retail licenses, eventually will be issued by the agency.  

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