Marijuana may be legal in Washington State, but it seems that the efforts to educate the residents there aren’t up to par. Although it has been more than two years since the state legalized the drug, both parents and teens aren’t being made aware of the specifics of the law.
According to a study done at the University of Washington, only 57 percent of Washington parents that were surveyed knew the legal age for recreational marijuana use and just 63 percent knew that homegrown marijuana is illegal under the law. The work was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
When it came to teenagers, the numbers were also worrisome. 71 percent of 10th-graders knew the legal age, but fewer than half (49 percent) knew how much marijuana someone can possess.
Kevin Haggerty is the co-author of the study and a professor of social work and director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. He explained, “As new states are taking on legalized marijuana, we need to have public information campaigns to make sure people have the information they need.”
As for how the survey was done, the study looked at 115 low-income families of teens attending middle schools in the Tacoma are, which was also undergoing a prevention study. The numbers were collected before Washington approved recreational marijuana, and then two years later.
The study also went on to find that although 70 percent of parents talked about the state’s marijuana laws with their kids, the talks didn’t happen often enough. Professor Haggerty responded to the finding by saying, “We know that parent expectations, even as late as senior year in high school, have an impact on kids’ college-age marijuana use. If kids are thinking in 10th grade that the legal age for marijuana is 18, they could potentially be more likely to use it later.”
It was also revealed that “the Washington law made little difference in the teens’ attitudes about marijuana use or the likelihood of them smoking pot.”
The article in the University of Washington news section also points out that last June, The Washington State Department of Health launched a $400,000 statewide campaign that featured ads on radio and digital media encouraging parents to talk to their kids about the risks of using marijuana. The University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute has also launched an education website that is expected to eventually be supported by marijuana tax revenues. The state’s marijuana law also sets aside a piece of revenues from marijuana sales for public education, drug abuse treatment and research.