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Recreational marijuana rules aimed to dissuade youths from lighting up

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday, Tuesday, was joined by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Liquor Control Board Chair Sharon Foster and other state agency leaders to announce new rules and public awareness efforts to keep marijuana out of the hands of those under 21 years old.

The Liquor Control Board will issue the first retail marijuana licenses July 7, with retail sales of recreational marijuana to soon follow.

From public service announcements and parent guides to new rules for packaging and labeling, Inslee and Ferguson said state leaders are united in their commitment to keep recreational marijuana from young people.

They say the effort is essential for public health and safety, and should reassure federal authorities that Washington state is implementing its marijuana market in the most responsible fashion possible.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck effort to make sure we keep kids safe,” Inslee said. “We want every retailer to know that kids are off limits and every parent to know how to talk to kids about why marijuana isn’t safe.”

Washington legalized recreational marijuana when state voters approved Initiative 502 in November 2012.

This week, Liquor Control Board staff will propose new rules that detail new labeling and packaging requirements to minimize the appeal to children and promote consumer safety.

The board is expected to also adopt emergency rules that require label approval of all edible products to ensure they are not especially appealing to children, require homogenization and serving-size scoring of all edible products and require an identifier on all edibles that they contain marijuana.

Rules already prohibit packaging with cartoons or depictions of children, and require that labels must include milligrams of active THC, lot and batch numbers, a complete list of ingredients and more.

In addition, state agencies announced new public safety campaigns to help consumers, parents and teens get educated about recreational marijuana products.

The Department of Social and Health Services is preparing educational materials to inform parents and teens about the risks of marijuana use.

In addition, the state Department of Health is running a $400,000 statewide education campaign featuring ads on radio and digital media that encourage parents to talk to their kids about the health risks of using marijuana.

“We’re concerned about the health of young people who use marijuana,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Teens who use marijuana regularly are at higher risk for addiction and are more likely to get lower grades in school. We want parents to talk with their kids about making healthy choices, and do it now; don’t wait.”

State officials also remind the public to contact the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1-866-789-1511 for free, confidential referrals.

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