Marijuana Legislation - Implementing Initiative 502

Initiative 502 (I-502) established a system, overseen by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, to license, regulate, and tax the production, processing and wholesale retail sales of marijuana. It creates a dedicated marijuana fund, consisting of excise taxes, license fees, penalties, and forfeitures, and specifies the disbursement of this money for a variety of health, education, and research purposes, with the remainder distributed to the state general fund.  The state Department of Health is the lead agency for implementing marijuana education campaigns.  Educational materials are available at

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) as the Single State Authority for substance abuse and mental health, is well positioned to meet the requirements and intent of  I-502 as it pertains to DSHS.  DBHR has demonstrated a reduction in the prevalence of alcohol abuse and risk, and an increase in protective factors associated with youth substance abuse, while improving coordinated service delivery across multiple agencies. DBHR also provides services to assess and treat patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

DBHR is responsible for developing a plan to implement Section 28 of I-502, which includes the following components:

Washington State Healthy Youth Survey and Young Adult Survey
DBHR is required under I-502 to design and administer the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey (HYS), analyze the collected data, and produce reports.  The information from the HYS can be used to identify trends in substance abuse over time.  The goals for the HYS include identifying youth attitudes and risk behaviors and their consequences, and risk and protective factors for school, community, family, and peer-individual.  DBHR is allowed under I-502 to expand to a young adult survey.   DBHR will administer the HYS and, as funds allow, conduct a young adult survey utilizing social media to survey populations who are 18-25 years of age.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP)
DBHR is required under I-502 to contract with WSIPP to conduct the cost-benefit evaluation and produce reports to the legislature by September 1, 2015, with subsequent reports in 2017, 2022, and 2032.  DBHR will work directly with WSIPP in evaluating prevention and intervention program impacts on marijuana-related maladaptive use, abuse and dependence.

Preventing and Reducing Substance Abuse
I-502 instructs DBHR to implement and maintain programs and practices aimed at preventing or reducing maladaptive substance use, substance-use disorders, and substance dependence.  These programs and practices will be evidence-based (85%) with the remaining 15% being research-based or a promising practice. DBHR-funded services will be delivered through Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative (CPWI) coalitions, as well as Tribes and Educational Services Districts (ESDs).  DBHR will direct a portion of dedicated marijuana funds to support youth residential treatment providers (through direct contracts), outpatient providers (through County contracts) and Tribes.

For more information contact Scott McCarty at