State’s ads urge parents to discuss marijuana law with kids

The state Department of Health is running radio ads urging parents to talk with their children about marijuana and Washington’s law allowing its legal use by adults.

The 30-second commercials last week began airing throughout the state and will run through the end of the month. They mark the launch of a public education and awareness campaign by the agency on all aspects of the law legalizing the growing, processing and selling marijuana by those 21 years and older.

The state agency is spending $200,000 to run the spots produced by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and featuring Dr. Leslie Walker of Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Essentially, we’ve tried to hit nearly everywhere in the state with radio reception,” media relations manager Donn Moyer wrote in an email.

The agency also is buying $200,000 worth of banner ads for digital media. Those ads will start appearing on Internet sites today, he said.

The voter-approved initiative establishing a legal pot industry requires the Department of Health to manage a comprehensive marijuana education and public health program. The media campaign is one component. Another will be to run a hotline for referrals to substance abuse treatment providers.

Under the new law, a portion of marijuana tax receipts must go to the agency to pay for the program. But those dollars won’t be arriving for a while, so the agency tapped existing funds to cover the cost of the commercials that first aired June 12.

This initial ad targets parents of teenagers and builds on research that shows children are less likely to use drugs, including marijuana, when their parents are involved in their lives, Moyer said.

“Now that it’s legal for those over 21, it is more important than ever to talk to your kids about the risks of marijuana,” Walker says in the spot.

Meanwhile, other entities are gathering and disseminating information on the law, and the consequences of breaking it. They are doing the same with guide for consumers, explaining the types of products that will be available in retail stores this summer.

The University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute created www.learnaboutmarijuanawa.org, as a repository of medical and scientific data on the health and safety risks posed by marijuana use.

And the state Liquor Control Board created a brochure providing details on the law and advice for parents on how to talk with their children about the rules and regulations of the new industry.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com

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