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Marijuana Sales Get Underway, But Youth Prevention Campaign Months Away

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo

People are lining up to buy legal marijuana in Washington state. Now the question is how to convince kids not to touch the stuff.

A panel of experts briefed Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday on the topic of youth marijuana use.

One of the points they made is that scare tactics like “Reefer Madness” are out, and peer-to-peer messaging is in.

Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman told Inslee he wants young people to help develop Washington’s marijuana prevention campaign.

“We know that when messages are driven by your peers they’re more likely to be effective,” he said. “We found that with tobacco.”

A radio ad is already playing in Washington that urges parents to talk with their kids about marijuana. But Wiesman said it will take nine months to a year to research, develop and fund a broad prevention effort.

Colorado is not waiting. It recently launched a campaign called “Don’t Be A Lab Rat.” The message to kids: don’t take a chance on marijuana’s long-term effects.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.