Majority in Survey Say They've Been Exposed Second Hand Marijuana Smoke at Pasadena Parks

Published : Monday, July 1, 2019 | 6:07 PM

Photography courtesy DAY ONE

Under Prop 64, the CA Health and Safety Code and local ordinance, it is illegal to smoke marijuana in any public place and in any place where smoking tobacco is already prohibited, including parks.

Yet 83% of respondents in a survey conducted by Day One at Pasadena parks report that they have been exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke at their local park, and 52% of respondents said their children have been exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke at the park as well.

To increase awareness and help kick-off a community conversation in time for the summer season when park use typically increases, Day One hosted “Let’s Clear the Air: Marijuana Smoke & Our Parks” last Thursday at Robinson Park Recreation Center to share results of a Marijuana Public Smoking assessment recently conducted at several Pasadena parks.

At least 45 community members participated in this interactive meeting to explore community solutions to change the status quo on this unintended consequence of commercial marijuana, which has made it the norm for families and children to be regularly exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke in many parks throughout the city.

The group heard from a panel of local leaders including Pasadena Police Officer Jason Cordova, Statice Wilmore Director of Pasadena Tobacco Prevention and Control, and Teresa Montalvo from the Pasadena Public Health Department Substance Use Prevention & Treatment Program.

Participants also designed messaging for updated public signage at public parks which could help inform residents about smoke-free parks laws in existence. Important topics of conversation included how to enforce smoke-free laws, while being careful to prevent the criminalization of youth, and also how to achieve equity for multi-unit housing residents who rely on parks for open space and recreation.

Second-hand marijuana smoke is a public health as well as equity issue because marijuana smoke, even from vaporizers, is known to contain many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco products, sometimes in even higher concentrations, which cause respiratory issues and it prevents children and families from being able to enjoy their parks and the health benefits of play and physical activity, officials said.

Besides respiratory illness and second-hand smoke, other evidence of known marijuana-related risks are summarized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and include:

• impaired learning and increased risk of depression, anxiety, suicide and addiction among youth who use early and frequently;
• Increased risk of psychoses for pre-disposed individuals;
• Accidental ingestion of marijuana edibles by small children; and
• Increased motor vehicle collisions from impaired driving.

The effects of high potency marijuana products on the teen brain will need to be researched further to fully understand long-term cognitive effects, but studies show that exposure to marijuana advertising and modeling of social norms such as public smoking is likely to increase use, especially among youth.

The marijuana-public smoking assessment is part of a larger effort being conducted in parks, multi-unit housing businesses and public spaces across LA County to understand perceptions and measure needs related to public exposure since legalization of commercial marijuana. With illegal shops still operating in the city, and as one of the only cities that have approved retail marijuana operations Pasadena will have to implement community solutions to address this issue.

To get involved and stay informed about next steps please contact





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