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Open forum discusses marijuana and its future

On Wednesday, April 22, the Campus Community Coalition, CCC, held their first of two open forums discussing the concerns over legalized marijuana. University of Washington Professor Jason Kilmer and local recreational marijuana retailer Aaron Nelson presented at the forum, offering multiple perspectives on the topic. Kilmer has a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from the University of Washington and works as both a researcher and professor at the university. Kilmer spoke first at the forum and presented information from research that has influenced him and research he has completed regarding the usage of marijuana and alcohol. Kilmer said over the course of the next five years he is focused on measuring the impact of marijuana legalization. Certain areas that need to be researched include the effects on physical and mental health from different strains of marijuana, the impact marijuana has on the lungs and the medical benefits it may have, Kilmer said. Having worked previously as both a counselor and researcher, Kilmer said he is grateful his job at University of Washington allows him to work in both fields simultaneously. “I feel lucky to have the chance to bridge the gap between science and practice on a daily basis,” Kilmer said. Aaron Nelson, senior vice president of operations at 2020 Solutions spoke following Kilmer’s presentation. Nelson discussed the specifics of running a recreational marijuana business and hardships that these businesses may face. Nelson said the biggest hardship his company faced was not having enough product when the stores launched. The suppliers did not have enough time to grow the product so they weren’t able to begin operating until just three months before stores opened, Nelson said. Upon opening 2020 Solutions, the average age of customer was between 40 and 60 years old, but as prices drop due to increase in supply, Nelson has seen younger customers coming in to shop, he said. “2020 Solutions is actively looking to expand throughout the state of Washington,” Nelson said. Western student Frances Dierken volunteered at the event and helped CCC set up the conference room. Dierken said she learned things she hadn’t previously known about the recreational marijuana industry at the forum. Dierken said now that marijuana is legalized she is excited to see the amount of research which will be able to be done on the effects and usage of marijuana. After the presenters finished, attendees were allowed to participate in a question and answer period. Attendees were told to fill out a blue card with their questions on it and then a spokesperson from the CCC read them to the panel of speakers. The questions asked spanned a wide range of topics. Some even asked for parenting advice to give to their youth that were interested in trying marijuana. According to their website, the CCC are focused on creating positive experiences for students living off-campus and their non-student neighbors, as well as working with alcohol retailers to encourage customers to make safe decisions when drinking. The next public forum on marijuana will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at the Mount Baker Theater Encore Room at 112 Champion St.

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