The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors has enacted legislation allowing restrictions and permit procedures for the cultivation, manufacture and sale of marijuana/cannabis.
This legislation came after a lengthy period of public hearings and is predicated on Proposition 64 that legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
Prop. 64 also allows municipalities and counties to forbid growth and manufacture of marijuana/cannabis. Only 161 of California’s 482 municipalities, and 24 of its 58 counties have opted to allow commercial growing activity.
Other than discussion of health issues related to odors and fumes from marijuana grower’s farms and processes, the Board of Supervisors failed to consider the long-term health issues of inhalation, ingestion and topical application of cannabis.
The question of health was directed to a health expert who explained he had no idea how to respond to this question, and cited the paucity of research on health impacts from fumes and odors as well as utilization of the various advertised products such as palliatives for any diseases or human health problems.
There are anecdotal claims of benefits for rare forms of childhood epilepsy, stress and anxiety, sleep, moderation of pain and discomfort from chemotherapy, cognitive disorders and a host of other maladies. However, there is no reliable research from respected labs such as the CDC, AMA, FDA and others. In fact, none of those organizations have developed sufficient research to establish conclusions upon which to rely.
The looming question is why the five supervisors introduced growers, subject to as-yet finalized restrictions, without pausing to consider medical and scientific research that might indicate possible long and short-term impacts on health.
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Prop. 64 was aggressively supported and lobbied by marijuana investors and interests at the state level. It appears this same pressure was imposed on county supervisors.
Das Williams has received substantial contributions from several growers, as has Joan Hartmann. It is no coincidence that the 1st and 3rd Districts, represented by these two, are the county’s largest growing areas.
The most-cited reason for this permissiveness is money. The lure of substantial tax revenue is, perhaps, the prime rationale.
One of the many problems is manifest in certain South County agricultural areas. Avocado growers are unable to find companies that will agree to spray either conventional or organic pest control because of the presence of marijuana grows nearby. They fear being sued by these growers. The result is that infestations of mites can destroy their crops and put them out of business.
But there is a more insidious problem. Despite claims by the cannabis industry that their products cure everything from cancer to pimples, research has been done in Australia, England and elsewhere, using 10-year longitudinal studies on thousands of subjects ranging in age from 8 to 38, citing findings such as schizophrenia, substantially lowered intelligence quotas, and faster heart rate that leads to increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
Researchers have found evidence of an association between current, frequent, or chronic marijuana smoking and testicular cancer and problems with developing brains, like those in babies, children and teenagers which are especially susceptible to the hurtful effects of marijuana. Smoke from marijuana contains many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke, which we know can be deadly.
With these facts and others in hand, we must wonder why the state and Santa Barbara County have not paused their legislative activity on marijuana. It is one of the greatest responsibilities of our representatives to protect us.