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Denver afterschool programs survey students about marijuana


DENVER – A portion of revenue from Denver’s special 3.5 percent recreational marijuana sales tax is being used to support marijuana education through free or low-cost afterschool and summer programs with funding from the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs. The programs support the office’s early marijuana prevention and social-emotional learning efforts by building awareness and knowledge about marijuana facts. Grantees who serve middle school youth lead a variety of activities and have delivered the first half of a 10-hour curriculum, Healthy Lifestyles 101. A sample of 205 Denver middle school participants were surveyed to determine their knowledge of marijuana laws and attitudes, key results included:


·         4 in 5 youth understood that using marijuana could get in the way of personal, academic or athletic goals

·         79 percent of middle school youth know that getting caught with marijuana could mean a fine or not getting a driver’s license

·         83 percent know that marijuana use can lead to lower grades in school

·         80 percent know that smoking marijuana makes it harder to breathe

·         47 percent disagree that most kids their age in Colorado are using marijuana

·         68 percent disagree that marijuana affects kids and adults in the same ways

·         87 percent disagree that marijuana is natural, so it is harmless and okay to use.


“It’s pleasing to see this sample of teenagers have a good understanding of the potential ramifications of youth marijuana use after participating in this particular afterschool curriculum,” said Ashley Kilroy, Executive Director of Executive Director of Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy and Department of Excise & Licenses. “It demonstrates that marijuana tax-funded education programs are paying dividends by helping teenagers understand the dangers of consumption to their health and their future.”


Of the 43 afterschool organizations that benefit from marijuana tax revenue, 20 organizations serve middle school youth implemented the Healthy Lifestyles curriculum. They include the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, Girls Inc., the Bridge Project and YMCA, among many others. Families in Denver can contact the organizations directly for information on how to enroll or visit denver afterschool alliance to find programs and availability. Many programs are free or low-cost.


“Our marijuana education curriculum is just a fraction of the work that afterschool programs do to keep kids healthy and help them make smart decisions,” said Erin Brown, Executive Director of the Office of Children’s Affairs. “Denver’s marijuana tax revenue benefits nearly 10,000 youth and makes a world of difference to families who need accessible, high-quality afterschool and summer programming that ultimately helps their children succeed.”


Currently underway is Healthy Lifestyles 201, a more advanced course that focuses on deepening youth knowledge of marijuana. More survey results are expected this fall.


About Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses


The Department of Excise and Licenses (EXL) is the central business-licensing department for the City and County of Denver. The department issues approximately 180 different business license types including marijuana, liquor, short-term rentals, merchant guards and food trucks. EXL determines the qualifications for licenses under city ordinance and determines which licenses should be issued, renewed or suspended while ensuring consumer safety, protecting the community and promoting economic development. The department is also responsible for inspections and enforcement of business licensing requirements and the public hearing process that accompanies many business licenses.

EXL also encompasses Denver’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), originally established in 2014 to recommend, administer and implement policies; oversee and coordinate city agencies; and act as a liaison between Denver and other local, state and federal officials, agencies, and stakeholders. OMP merged with EXL in 2016 and assists with coordination of marijuana education efforts throughout Denver.