Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to Provide $2 Million to Office of Juvenile Affairs to Fund Evidence-Based Substance Abuse Interventions

Oklahoma Juvenile Affairs - April 12, 2022 4:15 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 12, 2022) – The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) today announced a $2 million allocation to the state Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) to fund statewide evidence-based substance abuse interventions.

State law requires part of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana excise tax revenue to fund anti-drug and rehabilitation programs. The $2 million for OJA’s research-based program comes from that funding. Licensed medical marijuana patients and caregivers pay the excise tax, plus state and local sales taxes, when making purchases at dispensaries.

The $2 million allocation is included in OMMA’s fiscal year 2022 budget. OJA will provide quarterly project reports to OMMA.

“Non-medical cannabis use by children has been a concern across Oklahoma for generations,” said OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry. “Medical professionals don’t yet have enough research to understand the effects. In the meantime, we’re happy to play a small role in bringing this evidence-based substance abuse program to life. I have no doubt it will positively affect generations of Oklahomans to come. I’m grateful a portion of the revenue from the State Question 788 excise tax is going to such a worthwhile initiative.”

OJA will use the funds to provide an innovative, evidence-based intervention program called Functional Family Therapy (FFT). OJA is partnering with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to bring this treatment to Oklahoma to address adolescent substance abuse and the underlying behavioral health conditions that lead teens to misuse. It is a leading treatment supported by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. FFT is currently being implemented in 45 states and 10 countries.

“The drug epidemic has plagued Oklahoma communities,” said OJA Executive Director Rachel Holt. “Unfortunately, the impact includes many adolescents across the state. Substance abuse is associated with a multitude of lifelong negative impacts, including involvement within the justice system. These are multi-generational issues for Oklahoma youth, and OJA is committed to working with youth and families to help end the cycle.  FFT has shown to be an effective family-based intervention and OJA is thrilled to bring this intervention to Oklahoma.  FFT would not be in Oklahoma without this funding to train and support it.” 

“Early and effective intervention for substance use can have an enormous positive influence on the lives of adolescents,” said OJA Director of Behavioral Health Shel Millington. “Teen drug use tends to co-exist with other issues, including having one or more mental health conditions and often other behavioral concerns.”

FFT is a family-based intervention meaning that adults also benefit alongside their teen.

“FFT allows eligible youth to be treated in the community,” Holt said. “Treating young people in their own homes with their families has shown to have better outcomes instead of sending them to an out-of-home placement. Investing in the right treatments makes our communities safer because it meets the youth’s needs and demonstrates decreased recidivism.”

Outcomes of FFT have led to decreased substance abuse, safer communities by decreasing juvenile recidivism, while also allowing youth to be treated in the community due to the specialized program. Additionally, the model has an expansion that has demonstrated positive outcomes to keep families together during child welfare involvement. When Ohio adopted FFT, it resulted in a 56% reduction in youth being placed outside of the home and substantially decreased the amount of subsequent serious and violent crime. The FFT program also has been shown to be fiscally responsible. Across Ohio, the program costs about $5,000 per youth compared to spending $200,000 to place a youth to the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

A request for proposals process will identify the clinicians who will receive the training made possible by this funding.

Executive directors Berry and Holt recently discussed the allocation in a video podcast, which you can watch on YouTube.


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