Re­port tal­lies tax rev­enue, im­pacts of pot

The Daily Herald - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sharon Sa­lyer Her­ald Writer

EV­ERETT — Le­gal­iz­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana gen­er­ated $26 mil­lion in sales in Sno­homish County dur­ing the first year, ac­cord­ing to a Sno­homish Health Dis­trict re­port.

A por­tion of the state tax on mar­i­juana is sent back to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties for en­force­ment of mar­i­juana laws. Dur­ing the fi­nan­cial year end­ing June 30, Ar­ling­ton re­ceived $54,756; Bothell $86,721; Ev­erett $68,322; Gran­ite Falls $6,951; Lake Stevens $16,418; and Sno­homish County $349,753.

The tally of mar­i­juana tax rev­enues was one part of a re­cent health dis­trict re­port that ex­am­ines the im­pacts of le­gal mar­i­juana for peo­ple 21 and older. Wash­ing­ton vot­ers ap­proved the le­gal­iza­tion ini­tia­tive in Novem­ber 2012 and it went into ef­fect the fol­low­ing month. Recre­ational mar­i­juana stores opened July 8, 2014.

A to­tal of 41 re­tail­ers in Sno­homish County have re­ceived state per­mis­sion to sell mar­i­juana. The re­port projects that num­ber will grow to 66 as med­i­cal mar­i­juana stores con­vert to re­tail stores.

The re­port also looks at the how le­gal­iza­tion has af­fected youth and adults.

A 2014 youth sur­vey, the most re­cent data avail­able, found that a quar­ter of 10th graders re­ported they had tried mar­i­juana at least once and 16 per­cent used it reg­u­larly.

Sur­vey data from 2002 to 2014 found that youth use of mar­i­juana was not in­creas­ing, said Dr. Gary Gold­baum, health of­fi­cer for the health dis­trict. “The fact youth have not been us­ing it more I think is re­ally en­cour­ag­ing,” he said.

The sur­vey didn’t in­clude in­for­ma­tion on how mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion has af­fected its use by young peo­ple. Gold­baum said he thought le­gal­iza­tion would have more im­pact on use by adults.

“Frankly, even be­fore le­gal­iza­tion of med­i­cal and recre­ational mar­i­juana use, youth had ac­cess,” he said. “There were a lot of kids re­port­ing it was pretty easy to get mar­i­juana on the streets.”

Gold­baum said it’s im­por­tant for young peo­ple to re­al­ize their use of mar­i­juana can af­fect brain de­vel­op­ment. “The sci­ence has been in­creas­ingly con­vinc­ing that the hu­man brain con­tin­ues to de­velop even into their early 20s,” he said.

That means the brains of teenagers are vul­ner­a­ble to the in­flu­ences not only of mar­i­juana, but also al­co­hol, nico­tine and other drugs, Gold­baum said.

Dur­ing the 201415 school year, school dis­tricts in Sno­homish County sus­pended 433 stu­dents 456 times for mar­i­juana-re­lated of­fenses, the re­port found.

About half of adults

sur­veyed in Sno­homish County in 2014 said they had tried mar­i­juana.

Though the state law le­gal­iz­ing mar­i­juana sets a blood-level con­cen­tra­tion for im­pair­ment while driv­ing, it’s not an ac­cu­rate mea­sure, the study says.

The height of in­tox­i­ca­tion does not oc­cur with a peak of THC blood lev­els, the study found. THC is the in­gre­di­ent in mar­i­juana that cre­ates its af­fect on the body.

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