The Ventura County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution proclaiming April 4-10, 2016 to be “National Public Health Week” highlighting how the U.S. spends more money on health care than other developed countries, while our health outcomes lag behind. As Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas noted in his presentation about Ventura County’s own public health status, “zip code is a stronger predictor of health than genetic code” in looking at health factors and outcomes.
In fact, the APHA (American Public Health Association) issued a policy statement last year calling for a public health approach to regulating and controlling commercially legalized marijuana and urges that regulation of legalized marijuana be viewed as a public health priority. That’s right, a priority! Public health improves when you regulate medical marijuana, and it declines when regulators bury their heads in our nice sandy beaches, continuing a decades-long procrastination session and shirking of their fundamental duty to regulate.
We couldn’t agree more and are encouraged by the news that several new co-sponsors have signed on to support the CARERS (Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States) Act in Congress, which would effectively end all federal interference in state programs, open access to banking for the industry and deschedule cannabis from the list of Controlled Substances altogether. You can see an overview of the bill here and a nice update about what’s going on with the bill now over at Leafly. You can even add your name to the petition that is circulating asking our elected officials to get a move on it already.
With nearly 80% of doctors approving the use of medical cannabis and 92% of respondents in a 2013 California survey report that medical cannabis alleviated symptoms of their serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, and cancer, it’s clear there’s a disconnect between the stated desires of public health officials to improve health outcomes in our county and the prohibitionist policies they actually promote.