"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Understanding Just What is a Public Health Issue

Last week, there was a Democratic candidates forum in Baltimore for the Maryland Governor's race.  Lt. Gov. Brown was a no show; but then again, he is leading in the polls by a pretty wide margin and his campaign is bringing in a lot of money.  He is the guy to beat so why would he want to have pot shots repeatedly taken at him by the other two candidates?  I kinda agree with his strategy.  

However, what got my attention from the forum were a couple of statements made by Heather Mizeur, a delegate from Montgomery County who is running for Governor.  She is proud of her role in preventing fracking from occurring in western Maryland.  She served on a stacked committee appointed by the Governor to ensure that the environmentally unfriendly process of natural gas fracking never happens, at least while this Governor is in office .  She claims that it is a public health issue and she is championing her opposition to protect Marylanders.  Yet, during the same forum, she is advocating for the legalization of marijuana in Maryland.  Her focus is the dramatic increase in tax revenues that would occur in Maryland through legalization.  But, isn't this a public health issue, as well?  She is going to legalize marijuana with little to no regard for such public health issues as driving fatalities (increased 114% in Colorado since marijuana was legalized); an increase in use of marijuana by youth (which grew in Colorado); a dramatic increase in adult use (which grew considerably in Colorado); a growth in ED visits due to marijuana use; an increase in exposure to children 0 to 5 (which resulted in a 200% increase in Colorado), an increase of marijuana users into drug treatment centers, and that many consider it a gateway drug (just to name a few).  

On a positive note, tax revenues increased substantially and drug arrests are down in Colorado, but it is too early to determine the financial impact on the public's health as a result of the legalization of marijuana.  Sounds like Heather's priorities are a bit skewed.  She should listen to what fellow Democrat, Gov. Jerry Brown of California said about legalizing marijuana, "I am not sure that legalizing marijuana is a good idea because the country could lose its competitive edge if too many people are getting stoned."  He continued, "how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or nation."  Exactly!  It's time for candidate Mizeur to re-visit her platform for a whole host of reasons.

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