Mayor Lauren Meister has been criticized for “getting into the weeds” when she takes a lot of time to quiz city staffers about the details of proposals before the West Hollywood City Council.
But tonight Meister will be “getting into the weed,” with a proposal that the city develop a campaign to educate people about the potential risks of marijuana to children and pets. The approval last year of Proposition 64 will allow adults to legally grow, possess and use marijuana for nonmedical purposes. It is expected to result in a major increase in marijuana sales.
An item from Meister on the council agenda notes that “there are many benefits to legalizing marijuana, including eliminating the black market associated with its use, alleviating pressure on courts for marijuana-related offenses, and providing local governments with the ability to regulate and tax marijuana-related activities.”
However, Meister’s item notes, “marijuana intake can be dangerous for children and pets.” Her proposal notes that children can be tempted to ingest marijuana when it is in the form of a candy or treat like gummy bears or brownies.
“Because edible products have very high amounts of marijuana, the symptoms are more severe on a small child,” Meister’s item says. “Many young children who consume marijuana edibles require hospital admission due to the severity of their symptoms.”
“Dogs and cats can be poisoned by marijuana from second hand smoke exposure, or from direct ingestion of marijuana or baked foods laced with THC (e.g., pot brownies, pot butter, etc.).”
“In dogs and cats poisoned by marijuana, clinical signs can be seen within three hours and include severe depression, walking as if drunk, lethargy, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, dilated pupils, hyperactivity, vocalization and seizures.”
“A recent study found that in Colorado, the rates of marijuana exposure in young children, many of them toddlers, have increased 150% since 2014 when recreational marijuana products, including edibles, went on the market legally … Another study conducted at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine linked a four-fold increase in dog marijuana poisonings to legalization of marijuana in Colorado.”
If the City Council approves Meister’s proposal, the city’s Communications Department would work with the Public Safety Department and the Code Compliance Division to develop a public education campaign to increase awareness if the risks of marijuana to children and pets.
While Meister’s proposal is on the consent calendar, which is a list of items the council can approve en mass without discussion, it is likely to face some opposition from local residents who are deeply into weed. WHAC, the West Hollywood Action Committee, a marijuana advocacy group, is asking residents to write council members to question the accuracy of the studies that Meister has cited and to show up at the council meeting.
“We depend upon the guidance of our elected officials to spread fact based information to the public and have never been let down,” says a draft of the email that WHAC is asking people to send to the council. “However we are worried that well intentions to keep us safe could lead to an ill-cited campaign that spreads fiction. West Hollywood deserves the foresight to see a problem before it is one, but we also need the wisdom to see the fact from the fiction.”
The council will meet at 6:30 p.m. today in the Council Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., south of Santa Monica. Parking is free in the five story structure behind the Council Chambers building with validation at the council meeting.