Senate votes to establish marijuana education & treatment fund

The Alaska Senate today (May 1st, 2018) unanimously passed a bill establishing the Marijuana Education & Treatment Fund to address the negative health and social consequences of marijuana use.
“We need a way to monitor use of this drug statewide, respond with targeted public education and provide resources for poison control and the treatment programs associated with the misuse of marijuana,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), the bill’s sponsor. “We need to ensure that Alaska will be able to adequately address this emerging public health issue.”
After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly used drug by Alaska high school students, and is associated with poor academic performance, depression and suicide.
The recently commercialized marijuana industry in Alaska is projected to pay approximately $10 million this year in state taxes. This legislation directs 25 percent of those tax proceeds to the fund annually.
Legislators will be able to appropriate money from the Marijuana Education & Treatment Fund, the amount of which will guided by requests from the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to fund components of the program.
The fund would allow DHSS to use the tax proceeds to:
• Create a community-based misuse prevention program;
• Promote public education to discourage adult and youth initiation to marijuana, educate about the effects of marijuana and inform the public on marijuana laws;
• Survey/track population for knowledge, awareness, and attitudes re: marijuana use;
• Monitor use and its effect on the health of the populace in general;
• And create substance abuse screening, intervention, referral and treatment programs.
“The tobacco use education and cessation program has proven very effective,” said Sen. Giessel. “SB 128 takes advantage of the lessons learned from efforts to reduce tobacco use by supporting after-school programs, parental education and community engagement.”
SB 128 is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.
For more information, contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Daniel McDonald at (907) 465-4066.