Initiative 502 Recreational Marijuana

Initiative 502 Recreational Marijuana

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) is hosting a series of Community Forums regarding implementing our legislative mandate for Initiative 502.

 DBHR, along with our state agency partners has begun to prepare for the funding expected in late 2014 from Initiative 502 (I502) marijuana sales tax revenue. This funding is designated for community assessment, media-based education campaign for adults and youth, prevention hotline, youth marijuana use prevention, youth treatment, and evaluation. We will share our plans for implementing our legislative mandate and provide an opportunity for input from our partners, service providers and community.

Dates and Locations:

Please RSVP for the locations below at Seating is limited to approximately 100.

  • Yakima – October 2, 2013 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Spokane – October 3rd – 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Seattle – October 4, 2013 – 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Vancouver – October 8, 2013 – 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Who should attend:

  • Community providers, members and volunteers interested in prevention of youth marijuana abuse
  • Community coalitions with focus on Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Community and public health professionals
  • School administrators
  • Treatment providers

For details and more information regarding these forums visit

Questions:  Contact P. Scott McCarty at

For questions about a reasonable accommodation for the DBHR community forum, please contact our ADA Coordinator Ronnie San Nicolas at 360-725-1280 or email: .  You can also contact our state TTY service, by calling the Washington Relay Service at 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6388.  For all other accommodations, please contact us as soon as possible. (Examples: sign language interpreter, seat in front, etc.


 Additional information, as follows:

Initiative 502 (I-502) approved in November 2012 allows personal recreational possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Although DOH has a limited role in the implementation of I-502, it is important to inform you of our role, what we currently know, and what we have yet to figure out. Many of you are also getting questions and comments from your constituents and are looking to DOH to help address them. While we don’t have all the answers yet, I am including some resources and information that may be helpful.

Brief Summary of I-502:

The initiative establishes:

  • People 21 years and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.
  • The Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) will create and regulate a new system to license the growing, processing, and selling of marijuana for recreational use.
  • Marijuana production, processing, and sales will be taxed.
  • A portion of the revenue from taxes is earmarked for specific uses, including the Healthy Youth Survey, Basic Health Plan, and a marijuana education and public health program.

I-502 prohibits:

  • Home grown marijuana for recreational use or sale.
  • Marijuana retail stores within 1,000 feet of any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library, or game arcade that allows minors to enter. It also restricts retail advertising.
  • Consumption of marijuana on licensed marijuana retail premises. Opening a package of marijuana, or consuming marijuana (including marijuana infused products) in view of the general public.
  • Driving under the influence of marijuana.

DOH’s Role:

Under I-502, DOH is directed to:

  • Create and manage a marijuana education and public health program, similar to the Tobacco Prevention and Control program.
  • This program would include a marijuana-use public health information phone service that gives referrals to substance abuse providers, uses evidence-based public health approaches to minimize the harms associated with marijuana use, and avoids “an abstinence-only” approach.
  • Develop and implement grants for local health agencies or community groups to establish programs to prevent and reduce marijuana use by youth.
  • Launch a media-based education campaign separately targeting youth and adults.

What We Know/Are Currently Involved With:

  • LCB is the lead agency responsible for the administration (licensing, taxing, and regulatory system for production and sales) of the initiative.  Here is a link to their FAQs
  • Staff from the Prevention and Community Health Division are working with other key state partners including, the Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DSHS-DBHR), University of Washington (UW), and Washington State University (WSU) to coordinate efforts on prevention and education messaging. The group recommends UW’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute’s (ADAI) website as the best source for trusted information (best practices, research etc.) on marijuana prevention:
  • If the initiative is implemented on schedule, the first distribution of marijuana-related revenue would likely occur in April 2014. DOH’s responsibilities under the initiative begin with that distribution.
  • DOH is slated to receive ten percent of total revenue generated through marijuana excise taxes, license fees, penalties, and forfeitures.
  • DOH does not have an enforcement role under I-502.
  • Per our Assistant Attorney General, Marijuana smoke from any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, and or any other lighted smoking equipment is most probably subject to the Smoking in Public Places Act. This is from her own legal analysis and is not a formal opinion of the Office of the Attorney General. We advise you to rely on the advice of your own attorneys.
  • Our Retail Food Safety Program in the Environmental Public Health Division is also working with LCB on issues related to labeling, packaging and dosage of marijuana-based products.

What We Don’t Know:

  • We don’t know how much money DOH will receive as revenue projections continue to fluctuate.
  • The evidence-base for marijuana prevention and education is limited. We are working with UW’s ADAI and other partners to determine the best approach that is grounded in science and available national and international evidence.
  • Since I-502 does not preempt federal law, we don’t know how the federal government will handle marijuana production, retailing and use.

I hope you will find this information useful. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Paul Davis at or call (360) 236-3642

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