PoliciesAdvocating for policies and regulations that protect, empower and nurture youth
Washington Tobacco 21 Laws
As of January 1, 2020 it is illegal under Washington law to sell or give tobacco or vaping products to people under age 21. In March 2019 Washington State signed a bill to raise the legal sale age of tobacco and vapor products to 21 with a bipartisan vote of 33-12 in the Senate and 66-30 in the House of Representatives.
Washington Marijuana Laws
In 2012 Washington State voters approved Initiative 502, which permits an adult over 21 to possess up to one-ounce of marijuana for their own personal use in private. The public consumption of marijuana is subject to a civil violation and fine. Recreational marijuana sales to the public in Washington State began July, 8 2014. Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.
Local Substance Use Regulations
Clark County Marijuana Moratorium
- The moratorium, passed in 2014, previously made it illegal to operate marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated Clark County. Unincorporated Clark County includes places like Salmon Creek, Hockinson, Mill Plain and more.
- In July 2019, Clark County Council lifted the ban on marijuana.
- The code adopted by the Council maintains the prohibition on marijuana establishments within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school or public playground, as required by state law, but reduces the buffer to 500 feet for child care centers, libraries, churches, transit centers and recreational facilities. The council also added a 500 foot buffer for substance use disorder treatment facilities. Additionally, marijuana retail businesses will be allowed to be open until 11 pm, the same as the city of Vancouver.
- Read more about the code here.
Clark County Vaping Ordinance
Regulating Display of Drug Paraphernalia
The Vancouver ordinance prohibits the display of drug paraphernalia in stores where minors can enter.
Read More >>
Washougal Ordinance #1773
Regulating the Use and Sale of Electronic Vaporizing Devices
- Sampling and sales to minors (anyone under 18) prohibited
- Coupons Prohibited
- Possession by minors prohibited
- Signage required in retailers
- Vending machines restricted
- Use prohibited in public places and places of employment
Washougal Ordinance #1774
Regulating the Display of Drug Paraphernalia
- Preventing the display of drug paraphernalia in stores where minors can enter.
OSPI School Discipline Updates
In Regards to Substance Use or Drug Paraphernalia
- In 2018: Schools cannot suspend for absences or tardiness, students must be allowed to participate in curriculum, meet educational standards and meet graduation requirements. Students must not be forced to skip meals.
- In 2019: Schools must define their alternative approaches, must eliminate zero-tolerance language in discipline policies except for firearm violations and it is not against the law for schools to mandate drug or alcohol assessments. Schools cannot force treatment.
- Schools must collect and report suspension data.
- Schools are not required to impose suspension or expulsion except for firearm violations and they MUST first consider alternative action. This is to say that mandatory reporting of suspension/expulsion data does not equal mandatory consequences.
- Considering alternative consequences applies to all behavior and not just to substance related violations.
- OSPI recommends minimizing exclusions and encourages the best practices manual.
- The approach should be individualized for each student while still remaining fair.
- Learn more.
- View Best Practices Manual.
Current Prevention Advocacy
Prevent Coalition has a vision of a healthy, thriving community free of the effects of substance abuse. To achieve such a mission takes the individual actions of community members. Our role at a community coalition is to help educate and empower community members and volunteers on how to get involved with realizing this vision.
During the 2018-19 legislative session we educated decision makers on substance use issues in relation to raising the legal age to purchase tobacco. In March 2019 Washington State Legislature passed legislation to raise the legal age to purchase Tobacco products to 21. Prior, we shared what youth experience in their communities and what the data around youth behaviors shows. We encourage you to learn more and engage with decision makers. Each year we attend Prevention Policy Day in Olympia, helping youth share their stories and insight with legislator and we host an annual Youth Advocacy Training to prepare youth to effectively share their stories and community data with legislators and decision makers.
What’s the difference between advocacy and lobbying?
Policy change is a major focus of community coalitions. We know that changing laws, regulations, and policies will have a major effect on creating healthy communities. We also know everyone has a voice, a unique perspective and a moral obligation to share it with decision-makers.
Coalition members may not lobby on specific bills or policy when using the coalition’s federal funding. Members can however advocate for changes in policy, including activities such as speaking with legislators in order to educate about a specific issue concerning prevention, or to bring attention to issues concerning the community the coalition serves.
There are lots of nitty-gritty details about what constitutes lobbying verses advocacy work, but this should never stop us from doing the work necessary to update and change legislation to better our communities. Sharing stories, what’s happening in your community and local data educates decision-makers and is encouraged as a prevention practice.
Add your voice to community based prevention efforts:
WASAVP is recognized as the lead voice for state and national advocacy in matters of substance abuse and violence prevention for Washington State. WASAVP financially through membership to support state lobbying and educational materials. You can also sign up for their free online newsletter with Action Alert items to make public comment on proposed state legislation.
WLCB oversees the implementation of rules, licensing, and enforcement of alcohol and marijuana in Washington State. The WLCB website has multiple updates, a mailing list and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for direct comment.