The drug landscape in Washington changed last week with the passage of Initiative 502, and it will keep changing as the new law is implemented. Marijuana use and possession will be legal, the state will regulate and tax pot farmers and weed will be sold over the counter.
So what do we tell the kids?
For years, youth in Washington have been told to just say no to drugs. But with the legalization of marijuana for adults over 21, that message became more unclear.
For the longest time we've been taught it's a gateway drug into cocaine, methamphetamines, hard drugs like that. And now they're just like, 'Oh, no it's just fine. You'll be great just taking it. It's just like alcohol,' Bellingham resident Anthony Nelson said.
Drug counselors say the changing social environment could send mixed messages to youth. Parents might smoke openly, and the state expects 300 retail stores to open.
What do we tell them? 'It's still dangerous. It's going to affect your brain. It's going to affect your schooling. It's going to affect your sports. It's going to affect everything,' said Lex Rivers, a drug counselor and program coordinator.
However, Dr. Roger Roffman, who has studied marijuana use for almost 50 years, disagrees. He sees the chance to improve education, research, and support for kids through the money brought in through pot sales.
The state estimates that $68 million from marijuana tax revenue could be spent on youth drug prevention.