Washington children have a right to grow up drug-free, but by legalizing recreational marijuana use Initiative 502 unjustly infringes upon this right. Legalized marijuana will dramatically increase youth access and the long-term harm from its use. The Washington marijuana legalization movement, heavily funded with out-of-state donations, aims to prioritize the right of drug users to get “stoned” over the rights of Washington’s kids. As leaders in substance abuse prevention, the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP) joins the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and others invested in protecting our youth and communities and opposing I-502.
Legalizing and regulating marijuana would dramatically increase youth access. Alcohol is currently highly regulated yet is the drug most used by Washington youth. Youth typically get adults to buy them alcohol from stores and would do the same with marijuana under I-502.
Marijuana is particularly harmful to youth. Marijuana is the number one reason youth enter substance abuse treatment in Washington even though alcohol is more commonly used. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical associations, is against marijuana legalization. A new study finds that teens can permanently lose IQ points later in life, even after prolonged abstinence, if they smoke marijuana heavily before age 18. Legal marijuana for adults will leave drug cartels to focus on the youth market. Marijuana represents a small percent of drug cartel profits and legalization will not eliminate them. Instead, under I-502, cartels would focus their business on the youth market, where marijuana would remain illegal.
Legal marijuana would increase school failure. Marijuana use negatively affects motivation, memory and learning. Youth with an average grade of D or below were more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year than youth with an average grade of A.
The creation of a marijuana industry would result in mass media advertising campaigns that target youth. Despite restrictions on alcohol and tobacco advertising, youth are still targeted. The marijuana industry under I-502 would be no different.
Derek Franklin, Vice president, WASAVP