Marijuana is a serious problem say youth in the 8th and 10th grades of the Clover Park School District according to survey results to be presented to the Lakewood City Council at its January 8, 2018 study session (p.024).
More of a serious problem that alcohol (43.2 percent), or tobacco (51.4 percent), marijuana is judged a danger by Lakewood youth to the tune of 58.4 percent.
In this Part 2 of a series as to why marijuana should be banned locally – even as Lakewood’s “planning commission review(s) possible locations for retail marijuana businesses in the city and the development standards associated with allowing them” – what consideration will be given to the next generation in keeping not only with the vision and mission of Lakewood’s Promise but that of the City of Lakewood itself?
“The City has been recognized six times in a row for being one of America’s Promise Alliance’s Best 100 Communities for Youth. The last award was received in 2012, the last year the recognition was offered” (p.18 of 58).
Does allowing marijuana retail to set up shop and sell pot locally jive with the vision and mission of Lakewood’s Promise? “Lakewood is a community where all children and youth have opportunities to reach their full potential,” declares the city’s award-winning youth organization.
“Improving the health and well-being of youth and families,” is the agency’s goal.
Does making marijuana more readily available assist in that effort?
What role – speaking of role models – do city leaders play in affecting the choices made by youth?
An article in the Tacoma News Tribune, May 6, 2008 (A4), was headlined, “Bans seem to discourage kids from picking up habit.” The habit referenced was smoking and the article described what happened when teens witnessed “a community sending the message frowning upon (tobacco) use.”
An excerpt: “Youths who lived in towns with strict bans were 40 percent less likely to become regular smokers than those in communities with no bans or weak ones.”
One would think that concerned and courageous policy-makers would want to send a clear, unequivocal, unmistakable message about the addiction-affliction-and-appeal danger of marijuana to Lakewood’s youth by banning retail sales.
Consider the impact when government assumes its proper role – comprehensively partnering with family, school and community at all societal levels, including policy-makers, all potential influences on the likelihood of substance use – in protecting and safeguarding the quality of life, education and welfare of its citizens, choosing to govern well even over, and more than, what the people supposedly want.
If you must choose, implies Carl H. Neu, Jr., president of New and Company and director of the Center for the Future of Local Governance, opting for ‘the big picture’ through “exercising wisdom, judgment and courage (is) to be (good) stewards of the quality of the community’s future.”
Take seat belts for example.
In a paper entitled “Social Norms and Attitudes About Smoking,” Majorie Gutman, Ph.D., wrote “instituting even an unpopular policy may decrease a risky health behavior and eventually alter social norms and attitudes.”
“Seat belts were not especially popular when they were first mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1984 and many people resented having to buckle up every time they got into a car. Nevertheless, auto manufacturers complied with the law by installing seat belts, and many people began to use them. Several years after the law went into effect, seat belt use increased, as did positive attitudes about them, bolstered perhaps by evidence confirming the number of lives they saved.”
Similarly, observed Gutman, “the increasingly negative trend in youth attitudes (with regards tobacco, and by extension marijuana) appears to reflect a broader societal shift among adults and policy-makers.”
Policy-makers’ clear, unambiguous and unequivocal position on a matter impacts behavior, wielding influence especially upon youth and contributing to the likelihood of a continued decline in marijuana use as has been statistically documented in Lakewood’s Promise’ report.
Approving recreational marijuana retail sales locally does the opposite.
Modeling matters whether it is the message delivered by policy-makers or the example set by major league baseball players.
It was the “National Spit Tobacco Education Program,” as illustrated by Gutman, which significantly “shifted social norms and attitudes by engaging major league baseball players in decreasing their own use of spit tobacco, and more broadly its use by youth and the public. The premise was that the widespread use of spit or smokeless tobacco by major league baseball players ‘normalized’ or ‘glamorized’ its use, especially among young people who looked up to professional athletes.”
Government – including the elected representatives of city councils – has a vested interest in partnering with organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which has as its “mission to improve and make a demonstrable difference in health and health care for all Americans.
“Studies show that policies that make tobacco use less appealing (and, once again by extension, marijuana) have the greatest chance of reducing tobacco use.”
So, if the Lakewood City Council does not “enact a prohibition of all medical and recreational marijuana uses, including medical marijuana dispensaries, collective gardens, cooperatives, individual or group cultivation of marijuana, and all marijuana production, processing, research, and retailing, including those marijuana businesses licensed by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board” – as the City articulates as one of their options – then the Council will in affect be not only accommodating the habit but at the same time be having no impact upon the prospect of quitting much less the up-taking potential among observing youth.
Lakewood has as its self-mandated priority the development of a vision for the quality of life of its residents and by banning marijuana the City fosters, emulates, models, messages and carries out its mission to its youth.