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Marin's Social Host Ordinance Campaign

Updated: 5 days ago


The Marin Prevention Network is launching a Social Host Ordinance (SHO) awareness

campaign and asking the Marin community to help by sharing the campaign's important messages with friends, neighbors and family members.


The reminder from the Marin Prevention Network – a collaborative of community coalitions and individuals that works with the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – comes at a critical time when youth are more isolated because of COVID-19 sheltering orders and online learning during the pandemic. The North Bay's recent fires and power outages have only exacerbated the situation. Evidence abounds that stressful times

can lead to unhealthy decisions by both youth and adults.


Through collaborative outreach, the goal of the County SHO campaign is to educate the community and debunk common myths surrounding youth/young adult drinking and drug use.


What is an SHO?


All cities and towns in Marin, as well as County of Marin, have adopted some form of Social

Host Ordinance that holds adults responsible for underage use of alcohol and other controlled substances in their households whether the adults are present or not. The ordinance is designed to address the prevalent problem of underage drinking and drug use at parties held at private residences or rented facilities. The intent is to encourage parents and guardians in taking responsibility for what is happening in their homes when they host and to support neighbors in looking out for one another.


Law enforcement officials can issue citations for civil fines and fees for parties and gatherings involving underage substance use. "Restorative justice" can also be involved which promotes learning by both youths and adults as opposed to simply paying a fine. Restorative justice makes youth more aware of the consequences of their actions, and gets young people involved in creating positive change, further promoting youth leadership.


The County’s SHO was first enacted in November 2006 to deter underage drinking after two Novato teens died in a car crash after a party. In recent years it has expanded to include cannabis and other controlled substances. The County of Marin’s expanded ordinance was adopted in 2017 and served as a model for other cities and towns throughout Marin.

Why are SHOs important in Marin County?


While Marin is consistently ranked as the healthiest county in California by the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings, it’s also known for having among the highest rates of underage drinking and drug use.


In Marin County, alcohol and cannabis are reported to be easily accessible and readily available, and they are most accessible in social settings. According to the most recent California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) data for 2017-18, almost 80% of 11th graders in Marin County reported that alcohol and cannabis were easy to access, and many reported this access to be most commonly at parties or at friends' houses.


Many parents and caregivers have limited awareness about the actual substance abuse among youth: more than 85% of the parents and caregivers surveyed by the Marin County HHS Parent Norms Survey did not believe that their high school student had consumed alcohol in the previous month. However, according to CHKS data, more than 40% of 11th graders and 20% of 9th graders reported drinking alcohol in the previous month.


How can you help?


The campaign, running mid-October through mid-November, 2020, is primarily through social media and works to debunk common myths such as “If I’m too strict with them now, they’ll go off the rails in college” and “I’d rather they drink here than somewhere else.” Social media will be developed featuribg both adult and youth voices and shared by grassroots partners across the County.


What you can do:


· Follow Marin Prevention Network Facebook Page and Marin County Instagram Page

· For the next four weeks, share the posts and information around Social Host Ordinances with your network.

· Encourage local parents and guardians to sign up for Be the Influence and commit to making their best effort to host only supervised, substance-free parties for adolescents.


Thank you for your support in sharing this important message. Please contact Roxy Yekta at ryekta@marincounty.org with any questions or suggestions.


For an earlier BTI blog on Social Host Ordinances in Marin, click here.



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