July 16, 2020

Coalitions in Action – North Coastal Prevention Coalition Hosts PSA Contest for Peer-to-Peer Advocacy

“North Coastal Prevention Coalition (NCPC) operates in the cities of Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista, California, with a combined population of approximately 393,000,” said the coalition’s Prevention Specialist John Byrom. “We are beach communities in North San Diego County. We have a large Hispanic population in both Oceanside and Vista. All NCPC materials are produced in English and Spanish. NCPC was created in 1993, and in 2008 NCPC was awarded CADCA’s GOT Outcomes! Coalition of Excellence award. NCPC has also received the NASADAD Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices and Policies Award in 2008 and 2018.”

“Our biggest concern at this time is the commercialization of marijuana in the state of California in general, and the county of San Diego more specifically,” said Byrom. “The city of San Diego was the first to approve recreational marijuana businesses, which now flood our radio stations, newspapers and billboards with advertising. We did have marijuana business bans in all three NCPC cities. In 2017, two council members in Oceanside started an ad-hoc committee to look into marijuana businesses, and the council has since approved cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, non-storefront delivery and testing. In 2018, the city of Vista had a measure on the ballot to allow medical marijuana dispensaries and it passed. We now have four shops in Vista with seven more to come in a city of 100,000 residents. We believe they will want to allow full recreational marijuana in the near future, because with 11 shops they will not have enough business to survive.”

“While we are very proud of our policy work, we want to highlight our ‘420 Remix- Celebration of Sober and Drug Free Life Choices’ annual PSA contest, open to middle and high school students in San Diego County,” said Byrom. “We began this program in 2013 to encourage young people to think critically about marijuana promotion and develop messages for their peers to discourage use. Our 2020 contest theme was ‘Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.’”

“Since the PSA contest began in 2013, we have expanded our collaboration with schools in our area and throughout the county,” said Byrom. “Several teachers now include the PSA contest as a project within their arts and video classes. Winning entries are compiled in various formats to share online and through social media and are also featured in local news stories. Our 420 Remix PSA Contest provides opportunities to promote a message of marijuana prevention at a time when our students are inundated with pro-marijuana messages.”

“We have also had great successes with our policy work,” said Byrom. “One policy that we are very proud of is our Synthetic Drug Ordinance. The city of Oceanside had 169 spice overdoses on the streets within our homeless population from 2013 to 2015. While our work on this issue started 10 years earlier, the time was right for an ordinance that could reduce this problem. We passed the ordinance in April 2016 and since then we have only had three overdoses. We were able to put a $500 fine per packet if a store was found selling any spice, kratom or bath salt product.”

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