Venice visitors and residents were surveyed for their thoughts on marijuana.

An issue in the Westside and Los Angeles at-large is causing high concern among some residents and county officials. To be blunt, the issue is marijuana.

LA County public health officials began a county-wide survey on November 7  to ask residents about their opinions on marijuana smoking and secondhand smoke since the passage of Prop 64.

According to the County, there are concerns — particularly among parents, landlords and business owners — about prevalent marijuana smoking and secondhand smoke in the area.

“We’re here today asking people if people notice marijuana smoke in public, if it bothers them, if it’s harmful, and what should be done to solve smoke in public,” said Sarah Blanch, Regional Director of The Westside Impact Project, which operates under the County.

The County’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) developed the Marijuana Public Smoking Initiative to document said concern, deploying public health specialists across LA County to survey residents.

Data gathered from the surveys will be available in 4-6 months. The data will be used to develop and possibly implement initiatives to prevent or reduce marijuana smoke in public/shared spaces.

At the Venice skate park, officials attempted to gain a consensus about marijuana usage bothering people. The consensus gathered thus far? Who cares.

SAPC officials said they hadn’t received a “No” in terms of people noticing smoke, with most being unbothered by it.

“It actually makes things smell better,” recent transplant Domonique Jones said. “There’s a lot more [urine] on the ground around here than weed smoke in the air, so I’ll take the weed smoke over a lot of other smells.”

Jones added that he’s been a recreational marijuana smoker since for decades, laughing off negative perceptions of the drug when a surveyor asked about how Jones felt about harmful effects marijuana may have on children.

“It’s not a big deal at all. You can’t get hooked on weed and it’s not a gateway drug. I’ve been smoking since 8th grade and never tried anything else.”

A family visiting Venice from Bakersfield had stronger opinions.

Eddie and Brianna Monje were traveling with their daughter after a check-up at UCLA’s children hospital. The presence of marijuana was alienating for the couple.

“We can smell it around but we haven’t been bugged by physical smoke,” Brianna Monje said. But the smell alone bugs me because my child is with me.”

Her husband, Eddie, says he feels Prop. 64 makes younger generations feel that marijuana smoking is okay, which he doesn’t agree with.

“We grew up being taught this stuff is bad,” he said. “My daughter is 7, I don’t want her exposed to this so young.”

Businesses along Venice were asked about their feelings regarding smoking and if it affected their customers or foot traffic.

Businesses questioned refused to go on record but said the presence of marijuana hasn’t been a concern for them or customers, some joking that stoned customers have actually improved business.

“It’s definitely increased sales and foot traffic here,” a manager of local eatery said with a laugh. “It’s Los Angeles, people are used to it.”

Angel@smdp.com

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2 Comments

  1. We have had to suffer secondhand tobacco smoke in public areas all along and people just got on with their lives. I’m in favor of doing away with all smoking in any public area where non-smokers can be affected. That being said…

    Tobacco smoke is a well known deadly serial killer according to data from the CDC responsible for over 480,000 deaths annually in the USA. Cannabis on the other hand has never been associated with lung disease or cancer in any peer reviewed scientific study.

    Studies done on Rastafarians in Jamaica who smoke cannabis all day long indicate they suffer no higher rates of lung disease or cancer and live an average of 3 years longer than their non cannabis consuming peers. This was presented in studies done by Dr. Vera Ruben on Rastafarians in Jamaica from 1968 to 1974. In 1979 and 1980, the National Institute of Science did studies on Rastafarians in Costa Rica that proved the same results.

  2. Smoke is smoke. If smoking and vaping are not allowed in apartments, houses or public areas then marijuana smoke should not be allowed. The article would have been more instructive if it instructed people how to deal with the issue, particularly tenants and landlords. I have a neighbor here in Santa Monica who has to deal with this issue.

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