What does legalized marijuana mean for you? | As It Turns Out

Remember back in November 2012, when 55 percent of Washington voters said yes to Initiative 502? If you’re in the dark about what this entails, it’s time to catch up on what’s happening.

Remember back in November 2012, when 55 percent of Washington voters said yes to Initiative 502? If you’re in the dark about what this entails, it’s time to catch up on what’s happening.

To those who voted against I-502, it might be a good time to learn what the new social policy is all about because you will be hearing and seeing more and more of it in the media.

To those who voted for I-502, please don’t just celebrate the passage and leave it at that. Some extra homework is most likely needed to stay up to date.

Washington’s Initiative 502 was passed in 2012, first of all because the tens of thousands of arrests (draining law-enforcement resources) and prosecutions for simple possession (overloading prosecutors, courts, and jails) — all costing us millions of tax dollars.

I-502 also passed because of the additional taxes to be coming in to the state. From marijuana “producer” to “processor” to “retailer” there is a 25 percent tax as the product changes hands. Retail sales taxes and B&O taxes go to the state general fund. The cream off the top of the excise tax revenue goes to Social and Health Services (the lion’s share), the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse program, and the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the agency in charge of administering marijuana regulations.

I-502 was also passed because legalizing marijuana is predicted to do serious damage to the black market and gangs that target teenagers and younger kids.

For the Baby Boomers out there thinking of making a 21st century purchase — beware. Today’s marijuana is nothing like it was in the ’60s or ’70s. Read up, you’ll be amazed.

Don’t be like Maureen Dowd, New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion columnist, who flew to Colorado in order to experience THC-infused candy. She ended up eating an entire candy bar without realizing it was actually a bar of multiple portions – 16 in total. Dowd spent eight hours deeply regretting the mistake.

THC is the element found in marijuana providing the recreational effect. CBD is the plant’s non-psychoactive element used more for its medicinal qualities such as pain and anxiety relief.

Tales from Colorado’s experiences with pot-infused edibles have caused Washington state’s Liquor Board to move forward with tight regulations. Advertising and/or products directed toward children is now prohibited from entering the market.

In June, the Washington state Department of Health began an advertising campaign aimed at getting parents talking with their teens about marijuana. An open line of communication, they say, is the key in order to insure a teen’s health and safety.

Adults are the only ones affected by legalized recreational marijuana. It’s still illegal for kids younger than 21. The Liquor Control Board says, “If you are under 21, you can be charged with Minor in Possession. If you have more than 40 grams it is a Class C felony ($10,000 fine and/or 10 years in jail.) It is a felony to provide marijuana to any minor.”

THC is not for teens or kids and can do severe injury to their still-growing bodies. This is particularly so with the development going on with the brain in teen years. Using marijuana during this time can disrupt this incredible growth of the brain while it’s trying to reach its fullest potential – in other words, reaching its smartest.

A teen who takes marijuana can have difficulty with concentrating, learning, short-term memory, problem-solving, perception, and coordination — all of which could be permanent and really, really depressing.

Marijuana, like alcohol, is a potent drug. It should be treated with respect.

— Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist. Comments are welcome at marylin.olds@gmail.com.