Prevention and Treatment Experts Urge Liquor Board To Emphasize Public Health Over Marijuana Industry Profits

News Release: 
Monday, June 10, 2013

Today, a group of substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and public health advocates, in collaboration with the ACLU of Washington, submitted comments addressing the state Liquor Control Board’s initial draft rules for Initiative 502. Passed by Washington voters last November, Initiative 502 requires the board to finalize regulations governing marijuana production and distribution by December 1. 

“Initiative 502 was designed to achieve better health and safety outcomes for our families and communities than marijuana prohibition has,” said Alison Holcomb, drug policy director for the ACLU of Washington and primary author of the initiative. “It was not intended to ‘mint marijuana millionaires’ who prioritize profits over public health. The goal is to improve upon our experiences with alcohol and tobacco, not repeat them."

The group commends the Board on its initial effort but recommends several changes. A few of the highlights include:

•     Tighter restrictions on packaging, labeling, and advertising;

•     Shorter hours for retail outlets; and

•     Scrapping the logo that features a marijuana leaf centered over an outline of Washington state.

Roger Roffman, UW professor and marijuana dependence treatment professional urged, “The Board needs to remember that it is setting a standard for marijuana regulation. We have a unique opportunity to create a system that discourages glamorization of marijuana use and encourages respect for the public’s health and wellbeing. Let’s not waste it.”

The organizations and individuals joining in these recommendations include the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition Against Tobacco (APICAT); the Children’s Alliance; the Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation; the UW School of Social Work’s Innovative Programs Research Group; Northwest Seattle Coalition for a Drug-Free Community; Mike Graham-Squire; Gary Hothi, CDP, MSWc; Paul Weatherly, MA, CDP, Director of the Alcohol/Drug Counseling Program at Bellevue College; and the ACLU of Washington.