AWC Marijuana Data Shows Impacts on Cities

 
According to information provided by the Association of Washington Cities (AWC), there seems to be a growing body of evidence that indeed, cities with marijuana businesses are negatively impacted. The AWC data (below) supports the recent Op-Ed we published by Kirkland Mayor Amy Walen and Mayor Denis Law of Renton suggesting that the state should share with the cities any marijuana tax revenue collected in order to offset local impacts

Some vocal readers have attacked any notion that a city such as Kirkland might have negative impacts of allowing marijuana production and/or sales. The AWC data below indicates otherwise.

If there is contradicting data out there, I encourage readers to continue the discussion, but only if you supply data to support contrarian positions. I will, of course, post that information on these pages. We advance the discussion with facts and data. Opinions about the facts are most persuasive when supported by data.

For those of the opinion that crime does not occur in, around, because of or associated with marijuana, one need only look at the recent incident in Kirkland where a man used a sledge hammer to try and break into Kirkland's first marijuana store. Local law enforcement officers employed by our city -- not the state -- are on the line.

The following data was compiled by the Association of Washington Cities:

Youth exposure/use/ingestion/overdose

·         National Survey on Drug Use & Health – Marijuana use among youth (12+):

·         Brand new data: According to the WA Healthy Use Survey in 2014:

o   18% of high school sophomores have used marijuana. All other drugs and alcohol have continued a downward trend – not marijuana.

o   Marijuana use is more than double the rate of cigarette-use (8%)

·         Students are getting access to, and consuming, marijuana and marijuana edibles. Seattle Public Schools report the prevalence of possession of marijuana, edibles and paraphernalia by its students (source: Kirotv.com, February 23, 2015. http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/5th-grader-brings-marijuana-laced-candy-bar-school/nkHZx/)

·         Accidental ingestion and exposureThe Washington Poison and Drug Information Center is reporting a record number of marijuana exposures in Washington State since before recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012. The majority of calls occurred within the 13 – 19 year age range followed quickly by the 20 – 29 years of age group. The majority of exposures were a result of intentional abuse (n= 108) in ages 13 years and older followed by unintentional, unsupervised ingestion (n=36), predominantly in children less than 12 years of age. Marijuana products implicated in these exposures included but were not limited to marijuana chocolate bars, brownies, butane hash oil, marijuana-infused drinks, and marijuana gummy bears.

·         “Study suggests link between edible pot and overdose among kids” (http://www.kplu.org/post/study-suggests-link-between-edible-pot-and-overdose-among-kids)

Doctors are sounding an alarm about marijuana and young children, especially when it comes to marijuana-infused products, or "medibles" … A new study conducted in Colorado shows an increase in kids seen at Emergency Departments ever since medical marijuana laws were liberalized in 2009. In more than three years prior to that, zero kids went to the ER for marijuana overdose. But in the two years after the changes, 14 kids were confirmed to have overdosed on marijuana. Half the poisonings in Colorado were linked to edibles … No numbers are available for Washington state” [Washington State has not tracked this] … But Washington Dr. William Hurley, director of the Washington Poison Control Center and an Emergency Department doctor at Harborview, is sounding the alarm. “We think the kids will get into those at a higher rate than they get into alcohol or the marijuana plant. … He fears the use of edible marijuana products could get out of control, like the prescription drug epidemic, but the effects might not show up in data for several years.”

Crime and other alarming public health concerns:

·         Hash oil explosions - A number of high-profile home explosions have occurred related to extracting hash oil from marijuana. Pot users attempt to extract the high-potency oil through a dangerous cooking process that can easily lead to explosions and fires. Former Bellevue mayor and City Councilwoman Nan Campbell was killed when a neighboring apartment she was staying in exploded as tenants attempted to manufacture hash oil. 

·          Property and business crime

o   In August 2014 thieves stole over $50,000 worth of marijuana from a Seattle shop.

o   In a recent AWC report, most cities interviewed expressed concern about the potential for robberies and burglaries at marijuana businesses due to large stores of cash or marijuana products on site. It is difficult for marijuana businesses to open bank accounts due to federal banking laws and to rent off-site storage, as storage site businesses are concerned with the potential crime and legal implications of renting to marijuana businesses. Under the LCB’s implementation rules, marijuana businesses are not allowed to have armed security on their premises or while transporting cash or product. One city stated that without a local marijuana processor, the local store employee will have to drive hundreds of miles with large sums of cash to pick up large sums of product.

·         DUIs   

o   The Washington State Toxicology Laboratory tracks the number of total driving cases that test positive for THC (which indicates active marijuana usage) as well as carboxy-THC (which indicates marijuana use within recent days of weeks). From 2009 to 2013, cases where active THC was present in drivers tested increased from about 875 to about 1,360. About half of these instances in 2013 had levels that would meet the state’s threshold for a drugged-driving conviction. (note: Before Jan 2013 drug tests weren’t usually done if the alcohol test showed a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.10%. This change in methodology has likely resulted in an increase in samples tested for the presence of drugs)