Nurses work on the front lines of America’s health care system and have a close-up view of how cannabis is a useful medicine for a variety of ailments. So a full-throated endorsement of California’s marijuana legalization proposition is not a major surprise.
On Tuesday, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, America’s largest state organization of nurses, officially endorsed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will be on the statewide ballot on November 8.
“California Nurses believe strongly that the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana has ruined generations of lives, wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer of dollars and failed to protect the public health and safety,” said Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association/NNU.
‘A new approach’
“California needs a new approach and Proposition 64 is carefully crafted to strictly regulate adult-use marijuana while funding critical youth programs and safeguarding children, workers and local communities,” Burger said. “On balance, Proposition 64 is significantly better for public health and safety than the broken status quo, and we are pleased to endorse it.”
The nurses are not the first medical organization to jump aboard the legalization bandwagon in the state. The California Medical Association and the California Academy of Preventative Medicine have also endorsed the measure. The California Hospital Association opposes the Proposition 64. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has also come out in opposition of marijuana legalization in her state.
Other supporters of California’s initiative include Dr. Donald Lyman, a retired Sacramento physician who has called the federal ban on the drug “a failed public health policy, and Sean Parker, a billionaire entrepreneur and former Facebook president.
Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco and the current lieutenant governor, has also backed the measure.
‘A war on the poor and folks of color’
Marijuana prohibition in California has led to about 20,000 arrests per year. Those arrests are mostly young men of color.
“It’s a war on the poor and it’s a war on folks of color and it’s got to end,” Newsom said. “And the only way you end it is by going to the most destructive and the most ineffective part of that war, and that’s the war on cannabis.”
“I was a few years old when California had 20,000 people in prison. It wasn’t that long ago. 1977,” Newsom said. “In 2007, we had 173,000 in our California prison system.”
For more on Proposition 64, visit Ballotpedia.