Money To Fight Youth Marijuana Use Should Stay Put

WASHINGTON:  Many Washingtonians voted for Initiative 502 in hopes that legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana would lead to smarter ways to deal with abuse of the drug.

The initiative didn’t merely promise legal pot stores. It also forbade sales to anyone under 21. More important, much of the tax revenue from the sales would flow into a “dedicated marijuana fund” that would finance drug treatment and media campaigns to persuade youth to stay away from pot.

This wasn’t a minor appendage to the initiative; for some, it was I-502’s chief virtue. Without the aggressive public health effort, legalization threatened to send an undiluted message that the adult world considered marijuana no big deal. The prospect of controlling adolescent use was the best reason to vote for I-502, in our view.

State legislators are now poised to demolish that core promise of the law.

The Senate early Friday morning approved a bill that would vaporize the marijuana fund. After breaking the piggy bank, the measure would move the cash into the general operating budget and into public education.