OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority will contribute millions to the state Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) to help statewide evidence-based substance abuse interventions.

OMMA officials announced Tuesday that the agency will give $2 million to OJA’s research based program.

“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.”

Oklahoma law requires part of the state’s medical marijuana excise tax to go toward anti-drug and rehabilitation programs.

Licensed medical marijuana patients and caregivers pay the excise tax, in addition to state and local sales taxes, when purchasing at dispensaries, according to OMMA officials.

The $2 million allocation is part of OMMA’s fiscal 2022 budget.

The funds will help develop Functional Family Therapy (FFT), which OMMA officials described as an innovative, evidence-based intervention program. OJA and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) will collaborate in bringing the treatment to the state to address adolescent substance abuse, as well as underlying behavioral health conditions that cause teens to misuse. The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention supports the treatment, which is being implemented in 45 states and 10 countries, according to OMMA officials.

“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, so both teens and the adults in their family benefit.

“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.”

FFT allows youth to be treated within their community. The program helps decrease substance abuse and makes communities safer by decreasing juvenile recidivism, according to OMMA officials.

“Additionally, the model has an expansion that has demonstrated positive outcomes to keep families together during child welfare involvement,” OMMA officials said.