Pubdate: Sun, 29 Nov 2015
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Donald O. Lyman
Note: Dr. Donald O. Lyman is a Sacramento resident and public health 
officer who worked for the state of California for 34 years, most 
recently as division chief of Chronic Disease and Injury Control at 
the California Department of Public Health.


Marijuana Should Not Be Easier for a Minor to Access Than Alcohol

Ballot Measure Includes Strictest Child Safeguards Proposed in Pot Legislation

Measure Would Help Restore Natural Resources, Prevent Unauthorized 
Water Diversion

As the former division chief for preventive medicine at the 
California Department of Public Health, I know that, like alcohol, 
marijuana has potential health consequences for California youths.

Unfortunately, our current legal approach to non-medical marijuana 
use is failing to protect our kids. It is unregulated yet widely 
available without any child protections.

Marijuana should not be easier for a minor to access than a fifth of 
gin. But, as we all know, drug dealers don't check for ID.

That's why I and Michael Sutton, a conservationist and former 
president of the California Fish and Game Commission, recently filed 
a responsible statewide ballot measure to control, regulate and tax 
adult use of marijuana.

We can't protect children from marijuana's unique risks if we don't 
first establish a transparent and tightly regulated system that 
tracks the product from seed to sale, out of public view and secure from kids.

Not only does our measure include the strictest child safeguards ever 
proposed in marijuana legislation anywhere in America, but it would 
also invest unprecedented revenue into proven drug prevention and 
treatment programs for young people. Many will be modeled after 
award-winning tobacco-control programs, which I helped to create and 
oversee for the state.

We include broad bans on marketing to anyone under the age of 21, 
including no advertisements within 1,000 feet of a school, playground 
or day care center; establish the tough packaging and warning label 
requirements; and maintain strong criminal penalties for anyone 
providing marijuana to a minor.

Our measure will also invest hundreds of millions of dollars into 
state and local law enforcement programs to keep our streets safer 
and keep marijuana out of the hands of criminals and children.

And our measure will help restore our drought-damaged natural 
resources from marijuana cultivation and prevent unauthorized water 
diversion, while funding critical environmental cleanup  provisions 
that earned the praise of respected environmental groups such as the 
Nature Conservancy.

But none of this can occur until we bring California's flourishing 
but currently illicit non-medical marijuana market out of the 
shadows, where it can be controlled and overseen by state regulators, 
law enforcement and local governments.

Unlike the Ohio marijuana measure that was rightfully rejected by 
voters this month, our initiative explicitly discourages corporate 

In fact, it specifically empowers state regulators to deny a license 
to prevent "creation or maintenance of unlawful monopoly power." It 
also gives priority in non-medical marijuana licensing to businesses 
that have complied with the state's medical marijuana laws, and makes 
it easier for small businesses to enter the market.

Our measure adheres to the recommendations of the Lieutenant 
Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy in preserving 
the rights of local communities to decide how and where marijuana 
businesses should operate within their boundaries, if at all.

Lastly, it builds on the same regulatory structure and extends the 
same labor and workplace protections as the bipartisan bills passed 
by our Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month.

Debate continues about the health effects of marijuana, but the 
medical evidence is overwhelming that addiction is relatively low 
compared against alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does 
not pose a personal health risk for healthy adults.

But, for public health experts, the science is just as compelling 
that marijuana can have negative effects on the developing brains and 
bodies of youths.

That is where our focus must lie and why, if we are truly interested 
in protecting our children from the unique risks of marijuana, we 
must pass sensible laws to regulate, control and tax it.

Come this time next year, California voters will be given that chance.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom