The recreational use of marijuana is now legal within the State of California. However, this does not mean that all dangers associated with marijuana have been eliminated. In an effort to ensure the safe use of recreational marijuana, the California Department of Public Health has launched a campaign to educate the public about the dangers of marijuana and its safe use. The goal of this program is for all Californians to be prepared for safe marijuana use when business licenses are issued for recreational marijuana sales in January 2018.
The Public Information Campaign
State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith reports to the Los Angeles Times that the goal of this campaign – largely centered around the Department’s “Let’s Talk Cannabis” website – is to provide Californians with scientific evidence in order to ensure safe and informed decisions are made about marijuana use. For example: one major focus of the campaign is to highlight the fact that marijuana use is illegal for persons under twenty-one years of age. The campaign supplements this simple legal fact with the scientific reasons for its existence: namely, marijuana use in the late teens and early twenties can lead to physical changes in the brain, which are found less frequently in older users.
The campaign also warns that edible cannabis products often have a higher concentration of THC than other forms of cannabis, which can make users more susceptible to poisoning. In fact, California legislators are so concerned about accidental poisoning from edible cannabis products that a bill has been introduced to prohibit sales of edible cannabis products in the shape of a person, animal, insect or fruit. This bill is aimed at preventing children from ingesting cannabis products which look like candy. This proposal comes after scientific evidence from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cases of a child being accidentally poisoned by edible cannabis products in one Colorado healthcare facility increased more than five times between 2009 (before legalization) and 2015 (after legalization). While these cases were only reported from one hospital facility, the entire state saw a greater increase in unintentional exposure cases than the rest of the country. For these reasons, the Department recommends that users keep marijuana securely out of reach of children or pets.
One slightly more controversial aspect of the campaign is its focus on the risks to pregnant women. The Department advises women not to use cannabis for nausea, or if they are even thinking about becoming pregnant. One activist told the Los Angeles Times that the statements of risks to pregnant women “somewhat overstated”. Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should research these risks and carefully review the findings with their obstetricians. Seek a second opinion as necessary.
Of course, there are other risks to marijuana use as well, and users should not ignore them. Impaired driving is not only highly dangerous, but it can also lead to a costly – and time consuming – DUI charge. California, like other states, has not set a legal blood limit for marijuana at which impairment may be inferred. This is because – unlike alcohol – scientists have not yet been able to determine a set, definite blood level which applies broadly to humans. For marijuana users, this means that a DUI can be prosecuted at the discretion of an officer or district attorney, regardless of the results of a blood test. It is always better to err on the side of caution when deciding whether or not to drive. An experienced Orange County DUI-marijuana defense lawyer can help protect your rights throughout the process of any criminal charges.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Law Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
California is trying to educate people about marijuana before recreational sales start, September 27, 2017 by Patrick McGreevey, the Los Angeles Times
More Blog Entries:
Increase in Accidental Marijuana Poisonings Lead California to Propose Bans on Edible Candies, September 25, 2017, by Cannabis Law Group