Debate on Educating About Pot Gets Hot at WeHo City Council

A proposal to fund an effort to educate people about the possible danger of marijuana to children and pets turned into a heated debate at last night’s City Council meeting.

In her proposal, Mayor Lauren Meister noted that the city was a supporter of Proposition 64, which was approved by voters in November and will let people grow and possess marijuana for personal use.

Mayor Lauren Meister

“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,” Meister’s proposal said. “However, marijuana intake can be dangerous for children and pets. The proposed education campaign is intended to inform the public of these potential dangers and remind people to remain vigilant in keeping marijuana away from children and pets in anticipation of upcoming marijuana legalization.”

Councilmember John Duran attacked the proposal as “fear based and not based in reality.”

“My concern with it is it buys into the entire reefer madness …,” Duran said, referencing the 1930s film that portrayed pot as a drug that led young people to crash their cars and kill themselves and other. “I don’t think parents are giving marijuana to their children or their pets and if they are, there are bigger problems,” Duran said.

Councilmembers Lindsey Horvath and John Heilman also opposed the proposal. “If we are going to spend city resources it should be about something that is real,” Heilman said. Horvath said “If we are going to be spending city resources to educate about the dangers of any sort of drug use I think we should start with meth and not marijuana.”

The proposal also was criticized by several local marijuana advocates. “This is a step backwards,” said Amanda Hyde a leader of West Hollywood Action Committee (WHAC), which has advocated for legalization of marijuana. “The implication that I don’t know now to care for my pet or my child.”

Hyde said she is “a happy more well-rounded human being because of cannabis.”

Meister argued that she wasn’t advocating a campaign against marijuana but an educational effort to warn of its possible dangers to children and pets. While council members and commenters questioned the validity of assumptions that legalization of marijuana potentially puts small children and pets at risk, there are several studies that have shown that is true. A study published in June of last year in the journal Clinical Pediatrics found that “the rate of marijuana exposure among children under age 6 increased by about 1.5 times from 2003 to 2013” in states that have legalized marijuana.

“Over 75 percent of exposed children were younger than 3 years old, and most children swallowed, rather than inhaled, the marijuana, the researchers said.”

There is little research on the number of pets that have ingested marijuana. But the Pet Poison Hotline reports that the effects are moderate to severe.

Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, is now considering restricting its use in candies that children might be tempted to eat. Last year the state began requiring that all products containing a certain amount of cannabis be labeled with as THC and barred vendors from using the word “candy” to describe them. THC is the acronym for tetrohydrocannabinol, the chemical in cannabis the creates its sense of euphoria.

The council shifted the discussion to how the city might deal with the legalization of recreational marijuana once state regulations are in place, which likely will be next year. Councilmember Duran said he is getting many calls from people interested in opening marijuana shops in West Hollywood. In 2009, WeHo began regulating and licensing medical marijuana shops in the city.


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A Concerned Citizen
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A Concerned Citizen

I agree with Enoch. This is like anything that should be kept out of a child’s reach, including Aderall, Ambien, cleaning products, etc.. Anything harmful to a child. Exercised with caution. However, and I admittedly haven’t watched the council meeting yet, I think Mayor Meister’s proposal is well-intentioned. She is correct that some people don’t realize what effect it can have on children and pets. She’s simply trying to educate people. As a person who has accidentally over-ingested marijuana as an adult, I can’t imagine the feeling of paranoia (even if it is not life-threatening) of having over-ingested as a… Read more »

90069
Guest
90069

This proposal is GOP-lite. CNN is reporting now that Trump and his goons are going after cannabis and local communities soon. http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/23/politics/white-house-marijuana-donald-trump-pot/index.html A new era of reefer madness, racial discrimination and growing the prison industry complex. Let us not be fooled by “educational” campaigns when the real fight is to fight against the anti-freedom and anti-science nuts who are against adult use of marijuana.

Baked Smart
Guest

So scary to see so much opposition to an educational campaign! It’s not fear mongering, it’s spreading awareness about issues like edible safety. Unmarked edibles look identical to regular food, so children and adults can easily eat an edible because they had no way of knowing there was cannabis inside.
To learn more about how Green Crosses can keep children and adults from accidentally eating edibles check out http://www.facebook.com/greencrossedibles

Robert Chase
Guest
Robert Chase

@ Don Jones You have not cited any evidence of injury to a child! Of course children should not be exposed to cannabis (except upon the advice of a physician) or have to be taken to ERs because of accidental ingestion; there are negative emotional, economic, and legal consequences, but not a single child has suffered any injury or died as a result. In contradistinction, children are killed or injured by genuine poisons on a routine basis. Get you facts straight and get a clue about real threats to children’s health.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Meister needs to smoke a joint. And i agree with commmets from above. Did people vote for this or safer crosswalks. Medical marijuana has been approved for years in West Hollywood and nobody advocated education on this topic and now that it has been approved by voters there will be plenty of information without any of local council persons having to waste city time and money on this subject. Lauren has no faith in our ability to make intelligent decisions for ourselves

Don Jones
Guest
Don Jones

@Robert Chase #false #checkyourself

“Last year alone, poison control facilities across the country reported 4,000 kids and teens exposed to marijuana.”

http://www.today.com/parents/edible-marijuana-looks-candy-sending-kids-er-t94486

http://www.denverpost.com/2016/07/25/colorado-kids-emergency-room-visits-marijuana-increased/

Robert Chase
Guest
Robert Chase

Complete BS! Edible cannabis has never injured a single child; it is not a looming public health threat, but prohibitionists are determined to fan fear anyway. There is no point to extra regulations beyond requiring proper labelling — institute a public information campaign in dispensaries to warn adults of the risks of leaving edible cannabis lying about and have done with the subject!

Robert Muniz
Guest

Mayor Meister has proven she’s a Republican which we all secretly suspected…

Alison
Guest
Alison

We don’t need a nanny state, Mayor Meister. My goodness, when does her term end so we can vote her out?

Enoch Miller
Guest
Enoch Miller

I understand the concept of what the Mayor is trying to do and I respect the principle of it all. But I agree with the statements above that do you really need to educate residents on how to be parents and pet owners. You have to exercise just as much caution with medications, cleaning products, hell any kid or pet and stick something in their mouth that they shouldn’t and quite frankly as a pet owner I try to make sure my puppy doesn’t eat anything dangerous but accidents happen we just have to exercise common sense and just be… Read more »

Don Azars
Guest
Don Azars

I think it is VERY responsible of our City Council member(s) to discuss the benefits and any health problems associated with the use of MJ … especially around children, pets or while driving or …. BUT I would think the State of California is involved in compiling and providing such information to our residents. So save some $ and piggyback on their efforts. IF they aren’t doing anything then sure, let’s CREATE one.