It’s been almost two years since the first pot shop opened in Alaska. As more open up around the state, the Alaska Legislature wants to prevent underage use.
Lawmakers voted this session to allow some of the money collected through marijuana taxes be used to create an education and treatment fund, similar to an existing program for alcohol.
A measure to use 25 percent of the tax towards the fund, sponsored by Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), was approved by the Legislature as part of a larger bill.
According to Giessel, who is an advanced nurse practitioner by profession, more young people in Alaska are smoking marijuana than cigarettes.
“We actually have the highest percentage of kids starting at age 12 and above using marijuana, compared to the other states that have commercialized it,” Giessel said Saturday in a KTVA interview. “All the other states have a program such as we’ve set up in this bill that I carried, so that’s why it was so urgent that we get a program set-up as well.”
Giessel’s bill calls for a five-component marijuana education and treatment program, including:
A community-based marijuana misuse prevention component
Marijuana public education geared toward prevention of youth initiation to marijuana use, education regarding the effects of marijuana use and marijuana laws
A survey of youth and adults concerning knowledge, awareness, attitude and use of marijuana products
Monitoring the public’s health relating to consequences of marijuana use
Provisions for substance abuse screening, brief intervention, referral and treatment