A West Central group will host a forum tonight on preventing underage drinking — and with less than two weeks until recreational marijuana is available in stores, the discussion is likely to touch on keeping pot out of the hands of teenagers too, says the event's organizer Kelly Cruz.
The forum is part of the work Cruz and others are doing with the Community Prevention and Wellness Initiative, a state effort to help high-risk neighborhoods target underage alcohol and drug use by partnering state agencies, counties, schools and prevention groups. Since first receiving a $10,000 grant in December, West Central activists have worked with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office, Spokane Police Department and the school district to bring awareness to underage drinking and do compliance checks of local liquor stores.
West Central is one of 52 communities that are part of the program. In that neighborhood, about 23 percent of 10th graders surveyed reported heavy drinking. Nationally, according to the CDC, nearly 40 percent of all high school students reported drinking within the last 30 days and 22 percent said they binge drank. The latest data available shows high school marijuana use is comparable: 23 percent of high schoolers say they've used marijuana at least once in the last month.
The forum is tonight from 6-8 pm at the West Central Community Center (1603 N Belt Street). Find more information on the group's Facebook page.