Some good news for cannabis consumers and entrepreneurs in Ventura. Ventura City Council on Monday, March 4, unanimously approved moving forward with the development of regulations for marijuana delivery in the city, given a statewide law effective Jan. 1 that made it legal to deliver cannabis despite any ongoing local municipal pushback. Meanwhile, in Port Hueneme, new dispensaries and related innovative entrepreneurial pursuits are the name of the game.

This slowly evolving progressive stance on marijuana in Ventura couldn’t come at a better time in our society. With a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from alcohol, drugs (specifically the opioid epidemic) and suicide hit an all-time high since federal data collection began in 1999. In total, the number of such deaths rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people. Suicide went up from 13.9 to 14.5 deaths per 100,000, an increase of 4 percent. According to a joint study by the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University in 2017, the research showed a correlation with marijuana serving as a substitute for alcohol.

“We use data on purchases of alcoholic beverages in U.S. counties for 2006-2015 to study the link between marijuana laws and alcohol sales. To do this we exploit the differences in the timing of the marijuana laws among states and find that these two substances are strong substitutes. . . . [W]e find that counties located in medical marijuana legalization states reduced monthly alcohol sales by 12.4 percent,” the report concluded. The Distilled Spirits Council did its own report recently, however, contesting the joint study’s findings, concluding that spirits sales went up in three states where marijuana is legal — Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. But anecdotally speaking, there are plenty of stories of locals right here in Ventura County who attest to giving up opioid, meth and alcohol use in favor of marijuana. While studies may be conflicting on alcohol sales, there are plenty who would testify to the benefits of cannabis saving their lives, getting them away from hard alcohol and substance abuse.

While Ventura Police Chief Ken Corney talked about unlicensed deliveries occurring in the city, three of which were robbed, he did ultimately respond in favor of regulations and moving forward.

The new regulations to be considered include requiring a city business license of the retail delivery service, compliance with Bureau of Cannabis Control regulations, limiting delivery to residential addresses only, restricting delivery to residential addresses located beyond 1,000 feet of schools (k-12) during school hours, requiring “dash cams” in delivery vehicles, regulation if other cannabis-related products can also be delivered, regulation of deliveries of live plants/seeds and requiring delivery services to include city-approved public education materials (i.e., negative health impacts to youth and DUI prevention). Some of these regulations may be overly cautious, but still, progress.

We look forward to the city having a positive relationship with local cannabis business owners and law enforcement as society continues to ail from the negative effects of alcohol and opioids. With a change in perspective, great things may come to pass, such as reversing these lethal substance trends.