Jul 22

Poison Center: Pediatric marijuana exposures up this year

Today, the Washington Poison Center released the following information:

The selling of cannabis for recreational purposes became legalized in the state of Washington on July 7th, 2014. As a direct result, the Washington Poison Center (WAPC) has encountered an increase in the number of human exposures related to accidental or excessive consumption/inhalation of marijuana and marijuana edibles, particularly among pediatrics.

As shown in the charts below, in all of 2013 58 cases of pediatric exposures to marijuana were reported.  As of July 17 of this year, 54 cases of pediatric exposures to marijuana were reported.

July 24, 2014


All 2013

Reporting of exposures to the poison center is voluntary and not mandated by law. As such, WAPC data describes the number of calls called into the poison center and most likely is an underrepresentation of the true occurence of any one substance.


Jun 23

Marijuana ad campaign launched

Now that marijuana is legal for adults in our state, the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery recently launched an Underage Marijuana Use Prevention Toolkit to help educate people about the new law and the risks associated with teenage use of the drug.  The toolkit is available online and includes several posters, including these two.

marijuana education ad

The toolkit was developed through partnerships with non-profit, education, and other government organizations and not tax revenue from the sale of marijuana.  Funds earmarked for prevention are not expected to reach prevention programs for at least one year and will only be available if the state legislature does not divert the money for other uses.  Since state agencies that are to receive prevention funding from marijuana sales revenue do not have sufficient money to conduct a full scale campaign, they are relying heavily on community-based organizations, especially local coalitions with limited budgets, to distribute messages.

May 30

Liquor privatization is proving harmful to minors

Earlier this week, researchers funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided the Liquor Control Board with preliminary findings about the impact of I-1183, the initiative that privatized the sale of hard alcohol/spirits.  Following are a few slides from the presentation.

Since the adoption of I-1183, the number of spirits retailers increased from 328 to more than 1400 and potential maximum hours of sale also increased.  Increases in retail density and hours of sale are connected with increases in problem and underage drinking.  A Centers for Disease Control & Prevention-appointed task force recommends limiting the number of alcohol retailers and limiting hours of sale as proven methods for reducing problem drinking.


Researchers estimate that new spirits sales brought in about $24 million in additional state revenue.  At the same time, health-related costs of alcohol consumption increased.

Costs & Benefits

As predicted by WASAVP and others who were against I-1183, minors are particularly harmed by a less-regulated alcohol market.


An unintended cost associated with privatization, that nobody predicted, is the increase in alcohol thefts since the adoption of I-1183.  Again, this cost is mostly borne by minors.


Jan 23

The Specter of 24/7 Alcohol Sales

On March 30, 2012, the Washington State Liquor Control Board voted 2-1 to deny Seattle’s request to create an opportunity for local governments to petition the WSLCB for an extension of legal alcohol serving times. That is good news. However, each of the three Liquor Control Board members, also suggested that this conversation started by Seattle’s Mayor and City Council could reasonably continue between Seattle and the Washington State Legislature. That is of genuine concern to me.

In 2011 the City of Seattle had asked the WSLCB for the opportunity to develop local regulation to extend the hours of legal alcohol consumption in bars and clubs to twenty-four hours, essentially removing the prohibition of sales from 2:00 am to 6:00 am. The stated reasons for wanting 24/7 alcohol sales were: 1.) Public safety – eliminating a closure time for all on-premise establishments would lessen the negative impact of intoxicated patrons leaving establishments at the same time and 2.) Economic opportunity and growth- Seattle would become a destination city for nighttime recreation, which would generate tax revenues, drive tourism and support local business.

In brief, the rationale offered by the two board members, who voted to deny Seattle’s request, was as follows:

Common Theme: A common theme in hearing testimonies by citizens, law enforcement and city officials outside of the city of Seattle was that a city’s ability to control public safety ends at its borders. The concern: “what happens when people migrate from neighboring cities to drive in and out of a city with extended hours or 24-hour alcohol service?”

Contrary to WSLCB Mission: The primary responsibility of the Liquor Control Board is public safety. Research reviewed by the Board showed that extending sales hours can have a negative impact on public safety. In fact, of the nineteen most reliable studies in the international literature, sixteen out of nineteen (84%) indicate adverse effects on public safety. In addition to DUI crashes, adverse effects include public inebriation, vandalism, robbery, and violence.

Additional Availability: Due to the recent implementation of I-1183 (privatized liquor sales), the availability of liquor has increased approximately five fold across Washington State. The research is clear that increasing alcohol outlets negatively affects public safety. At this point, on- and off-premises licensees have the same hours. If 24/7 access is granted for on-premise sales, it stands to reason, that off-premise locations, such as retailers, would soon ask for the same 24/7 privilege. As availability increases, public safety is compromised and more law enforcement is required.

Over-Service: The WSLCB Enforcement Division does not have the resources to deal with extended hours. The ratio of liquor enforcement officers to licensees statewide is 1:300. In Seattle, it is 1:400. Seattle did not indicate that they had additional money to fund necessary local law enforcement efforts. Additionally, if 2:00 a.m. is a dangerous “push-out time,” sending intoxicated people out into the streets, perhaps over-service, not the closing time, is the real problem.

Based on the concerns previously articulated by two of the three WSLCB members, the possibility of 24/7 sales of alcohol being revisited by the City of Seattle through proposed legislation raises the following concerns for me:

The municipalities in my own small, densely populated county would also have the option to develop regulations to sell alcohol 24/7 at on-premise establishments. As suggested by one of the WSLCB members, that would most likely eventually include off-premise sales venues as well. As availability increases, public safety is compromised and more law enforcement is required.

It has not been determined whether the business profits and increased tax revenues associated with extension of alcohol sales hours will, in fact, fiscally exceed the costs associated with increased crime, law enforcement activity and other support services.

There is no data that supports the notion that a city with a 24/7 alcohol sales policy will be safer because there will be fewer drunk drivers hitting the streets at the same time. On the contrary, it can be argued that a greater number of people will be drinking more alcohol in public and will be heading home when work day traffic is heavier.

As a taxpayer, the costs associated with increased crime and supporting adequate law enforcement to provide for public safety will ultimately be mine.

The increase in municipal economic activity will not outweigh the incalculable damage to my sense of public safety.

Nov 18

Liquor theft stories survey

On June 1, 2012, Washington State’s “state-controlled” liquor stores closed, and hard liquor (such as vodka, whisky, rum) became available for sale in large stores that obtained a spirits sales license. Since that time, many community members and store personnel have shared stories about experiences with theft of hard liquor from stores. State and local agencies working in substance abuse prevention are seeking to collect these stories more systematically, as they provide important information that can help Washington and other states in moving forward and continuing to prevent youth alcohol use and alcohol abuse.

If you have such a story, please take a few moments to fill out this form. You can fill it out multiple times if you wish. Please also feel free to share this survey link with anyone you know who may have a story to tell.

Additionally, if you have questions or would like to share a story over the phone, you can leave your phone number or email in the last box on this survey, and a member of the research team will contact you.

 The information collected will be compiled into a summary report available in January 2014. No individuals will be named. We will name cities or counties, OR chain store names as shared in stories, but we will work to NOT identify individual stores in specific communities.

 Thank you for your support.  

1. Which of the following best describes your role in the community? (mark all that apply)

  • Law enforcement
  • Business/store
  • Substance abuse prevention/treatment
  • Education system
  • Community member
  • Youth/Student
  • Healthcare system
  • Community leader/elected official
  • Other (please specify): _____________________________________________________________


2. What Washington State city or county did this story about alcohol theft occur it?

3. Please share your story/stories about thefts of alcohol/hard liquor that have happened since June 2012. (if possible, please include approximate dates, whether youth were involved, and what happened as a result of the incident/s)

4. Please estimate the value or cost of the theft. (this means the value of alcohol that was stolen or destroyed)

5. Please describe any other consequences of the event, such as injuries, changes in store personnel or staffing patterns, changes in store operations, or how the stolen liquor was distributed.

 6. Is there anything else you would like to say?

You are welcome to provide your name and contact information if you are willing to talk more about this story. Your name and information will not be included in any summaries or reports, unless you give your specific permission.

Please enter the information from this survey online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WA_alcohol_theft_stories or return hard copies to:

Dr. Linda Becker


PO Box 45330 – Olympia WA 98504-5330

Jul 18

Honor Ramona Leber

Mayor photo
For twenty two years Ramona Leber faithfully served the Washington State Community Mobilization program; first as the Cowlitz county coordinator, then as a statewide contract manager and lastly as the sole program manager. Ramona is not only extremely knowledgeable about the Art and Science of Community Organizing, she lived it each and every day! Ramona knew first hand the importance of forming relationships and listening to the voices in the  community as well as looking at data to solve problems. Ramona empowered all of us to dream of and realize a better future for our communities, our families and most importantly our youth and children. Washington state is a better place because of Ramona.  With the closing of the Community Mobilization program Ramona is moving on into the next chapter of her life of service.
Please join the prevention field in acknowledging her many years of service with a gift to WASAVP in her honor (this is her wish in lieu of gifts). Please also make a comment below to honor Ramona, your comments will be shared with her.



Jul 16

Preventing youth marijuana use: What works?

Last week, WASAVP hosted “What Works!”, a symposium for Washington prevention advocates and providers about what can be done to prevent youth marijuana use.  Presentations from the symposium are now available on the Athena Forum website.

Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Marijuana Use: Preliminary Findings

Predicting the Uncertain Future of Legal Marijuana

Environmental Prevention Strategies Discussion: Lessons Learned from the Field

Initiative 502 Implementation: Creating Washington’s system of legalized marijuana 

Making comments about proposed rules

Tobacco Lessons for Marijuana Policies and Environmental Systems Interventions

High School Traffic Safety Programs

What Works? Program Review


Jun 17

Youth Marijuana Prevention Symposium – What Works

Join WASAVP members on July 10 in Federal Way to hear the latest information on potential  evidence-based interventions to prevent marijuana use in youth.  Washington State sits on the cutting edge of experience and research and brings you an overview of what is known at this time from researchers, professionals, academics, community advocates, and technicians.  Education, policy, advocacy, strategic program implementation and coalition work continue to be essential. 

Learn more and register by clicking here.

Feb 26

WASAVP supports proposed rule to require liquor sellers to report theft

The passage of Initiative 1183 privatized liquor sales across the state last summer.  Since then, many communities have seen an increase in theft of spirits.  The Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) is currently engaged in rulemaking that would require spirits license holders (stores that sell liquor) to report 4 times a year the theft or loss due to shrinkage.   Liquor theft has been covered by media and following are two examples:


Mandatory Reporting of Loss of Spirits Due to Theft and Internal Shrinkage: The public comment on proposed rulemaking on this topic will end Wednesday, February 27, 2013.  This is a different and distinct window of opportunity for public comment then the one that ended on January 27.  (In late January this item progressed to the “proposed rulemaking phase” – known as CR 102 – where a new comment period began specific to the proposed rule.)  Proposed language under consideration by the LCB states:


(4) Spirit retail licensees must report to the board quarterly on a form provided by the board, spirits product loss due to theft and internal shrinkage.  


The proposed language would be added to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) that defines the requirements for a spirits retail license.  The new language is underlined and can be found on the last page of the attached notice to stakeholders.


The WASAVP Board submitted the following comments to the Liquor Control Board:  

Alcohol theft is rampant under I-1183 and spirits are being resold into the black market and finding their way into the hands of kids. In addition, product theft means fewer tax dollars in state coffers to help mitigate social costs. We find that accurate reporting of theft and internal shrinkage will help substance abuse prevention assets across the state in these ways:

1. Substance abuse prevention relies upon accurate data–accurate reporting will allow us to determine appropriate interventions and strategically allocate limited resources. (i.e. if we know vodka is being stolen, then we can educate teachers on identifying student impairment when an alcohol odor is harder to detect.)

 2. Substance abuse prevention collaborates with law enforcement– accurate accounting of theft and shrinkage will allow police and prevention coalitions to coordinate enforcement and education efforts with appropriate businesses. (i.e. if a single store is being disproportionately targeted for theft, police can allocate enforcement resources in coordination with prevention coalitions that can implement targeted grassroots alcohol education and local policy efforts.)

3. Substance abuse prevention and treatment communities work together–accurate reporting of theft and shrinkage will inform collaborations between community prevention and treatment (i.e. with accurate reporting of theft and shrinkage, prevention assets can coordinate with substance abuse treatment providers to identify those particular brands or categories of spirits being stolen and/or abused by youth and create marketing and treatment intervention as indicated–is the underage market being flooded with a product typically “shot,” or mixed?–It makes a difference.)

Feb 13

WASAVP provides legislature with comments about alcohol bills

As in previous years, many bills have been introduced to the Washington legislature to further deregulate alcohol in our state.  Recently, the Washington Senate Labor and Commerce Committee met and discussed multiple alcohol-related bills and WASAVP provided testimony.  View the hearing on the WASAVP blog.

Bills discussed were:

  • SB 5045: Allowing day spas to offer or supply without charge wine or beer by the individual glass to a customer for consumption on the premises.
  • SB 5111: Creating a beer and wine theater license. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.)
  • SB 5607: Concerning beer, wine, and spirits theater licenses.
  • SB 5238: Concerning recommendations for streamlining reporting requirements for taxes and fees on spirits.
  • SB 5261: Prohibiting certain liquor self-checkout machines.
  • SB 5303: Concerning the identification of wineries, breweries, and microbreweries on private labels.
  • SB 5310: Creating a senior center license.
  • SB 5396: Concerning limited on-premise spirits sampling.
  • SB 5517: Changing the criteria for the beer and wine tasting endorsement for grocery stores.
  • SB 5628: Allowing multiple liquor licenses at the same physical premises.
  • SB 5674: Allowing wine and beer sampling at farmers markets.

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