Tomorrow is a Board of Supervisors meeting. I wanted to share two of the items I’ll be focused on for the meeting.
We are all too familiar with the devastating impact of suicide, as it has touched the lives of so many in our community. In 2021, San Diego County alone witnessed 364 deaths by suicide, a stark reminder of the urgency and importance of enhanced suicide prevention efforts.
At tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting, I have put forth legislation to address suicide in our region.
Preliminary findings from the San Diego County Gun Violence Community Needs Assessment indicate that 86.1% of gun-related deaths from 2017 to 2022 were suicides. Seniors, in particular, make up the population with the highest rate of suicide among gun users. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated measures have exacerbated the problem, leading to increased rates of loneliness and isolation, especially among seniors.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 47% of seniors reported negative impacts on their mental health due to social distancing and pandemic-related stress.
We can identify needs and address resource gaps by conducting a comprehensive assessment. This will enable us to develop focused strategies to support those most at risk, including seniors.
We aim to take a significant step forward in preventing suicide in San Diego County. We can build a resilient, compassionate, and supportive community by allocating resources and implementing evidence-based strategies.
Protecting Our Children
I am also focused on another topic that demands immediate attention: the alarming rise in children accidentally ingesting cannabis products.
The statistics are deeply concerning. In 2017, we had around 200 reported cases of accidental ingestion. However, in just four years, that number has skyrocketed to a staggering 3,054 cases in 2021—an alarming increase of 1,375%. This disturbing trend puts our children’s health and safety at risk.
Cannabis poisoning can have severe consequences for young children, leading to seizures, rapid heart rate, dizziness, and respiratory distress. It is heart-wrenching to hear that children as young as two years old have been hospitalized due to accidental ingestion. These incidents highlight the urgent need to prevent further harm to our children.
One significant contributing factor to these accidents is the misleading packaging of cannabis products. It is easy to see why young children confuse these products with candy. The packaging is designed to be bright, imitates popular candy brands, and even feature beloved Disney characters. This blatant marketing tactic directly contradicts the promise made when marijuana was legalized in California: that products would not be marketed to children. This promise has not been kept.
To address this issue head-on, I am proud to announce that I will introduce legislation tomorrow supporting AB 1207. This bill, authored by Assemblywoman Irwin, will hold cannabis manufacturers accountable for their promise. It will prohibit the production of cannabis or cannabis products that are attractive to children, as well as any advertisement or marketing that targets children.
Let us unite as a community to support AB 1207 and ensure its successful passage. Together, we can create a safer environment for our children, free from the risks posed by inappropriate marketing and accidental cannabis ingestion.
San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond