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Mercer Island's Communities that Care Coalition focuses on marijuana prevention efforts

Mercer Island Communities that Care Coalition is focusing it's efforts on preventing local youth from using marijuana now that the drug is legal is the state of Washington.

CTC's mission is the prevent underage alcohol and drug use.

"Although marijuana remains illegal for youth under legalization, it will likely become easier for youth to obtain. Also, legalization sends a message of social acceptability that will be difficult to counter," says CTC Project Director Derek Franklin.

Unlike other substances, underage marijuana use by Islanders has been unchanged from 2009 to 2011. Approximately 16 percent of sixth through 12th graders have reported using the drug.

To address the impact of legalization, CTC will be focusing on marijuana education, social norms messaging and hopes to work with the Mercer Island School District on marijuana education for students and parents.

After receiving many questions on the topic, the CTC has provided answers to some of the most popular questions.

• Though the drug and infused products are legal for adults 21 and over, like alcohol, it is not to be smoked or opened in public view.

• It's not legal to purchase marijuana, but stores are scheduled to be licensed and open by December 2013 where marijuana can be sold exclusively.

• All forms of the product are illegal for youths under 21 years old.

• Marijuana infused products can include: candy, brownies and other bakes goods, sauces, oils and beverages, etc.

• It's illegal to provide marijuana to minors.

• Driving under the influence is illegal.

• There is zero tolerance for minors who drive under the influence of marijuana.

• Marijuana is addictive, one in six youths who use it become dependent.

• A recent study shows that heavy marijuana use as a teen can result in permanent loss of up to eight IQ points, even after long periods of abstinence.

• Marijuana obtained from "Green Card" holders is not any safer or less harmful.t

"In spite of the challenge presented by marijuana legalization, CTC remains positive and hopeful that efforts will continue to help keep Island youth drug free," says Franklin.

To learn more about CTC contact Franklin at (206) 275-7745.

Anyone with a concern about a child or family member dealing with marijuana misuse or dependence can contact Youth and Family Services counselor Chris Harnish at (206) 236-3363.

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