Health authorities in California have declared a “state of emergency” over the state’s medical marijuana industry after seeing a spike in overdose deaths and deaths linked to medical marijuana, prompting the state to expand its regulatory system.
“This is a national crisis,” Gov.
Jerry Brown said Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The crisis is that we’re seeing this spike in deaths that are linked to this product, and that’s really the biggest challenge we’re facing right now.”
Brown said he was calling on the federal government to provide the funds for the emergency.
Brown, a Democrat, is the highest-ranking statewide elected official to publicly declare the state of emergency, which requires state agencies to act quickly to combat the situation.
California’s medical cannabis industry has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, and the state has become one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.
The industry is estimated to be worth $5 billion, according the Los Angles Times.
According to the LA Times, there have been more than 200 deaths linked directly to medical cannabis, and an additional 11 deaths related to the product, mostly in patients with debilitating illnesses.
A separate study released earlier this year by the University of Michigan found that there were 5,400 registered medical marijuana patients in the state.
The LA Times reported that a spokesperson for the governor’s office told the newspaper that the governor has been in touch with several of the state Attorney General’s offices and other health officials in order to request funding for the statewide emergency declaration.
The governor’s spokesman told the Times that the declaration is in response to a “high-level request” from the Attorney General of California, a request that the Attorney Generals Office has confirmed is valid.
“As soon as Governor Brown called Governor Brown, he immediately asked the Attorney general to grant him state of state emergency,” the spokesperson said.
“I believe the AG has responded in a timely manner.”
According to The Los Angeles News, the attorney general’s office has “advised that they will not take action until the Department of Public Health and Human Services has issued a decision regarding their request.”
Brown also said he has ordered the state attorney general to look into how the law enforcement response to the industry’s rise is going, and if the state is “going to have to move fast in order for us to achieve this objective.”
A federal court judge in the Northern District of California on Monday ruled in favor of California’s medical pot industry, ordering the state not to enforce the state medical marijuana law until a federal judge has approved its implementation.
California has already allowed dispensaries to open in the Golden State, and it is expected that the new emergency declaration will allow the industry to open.
According to The LA Times , the state had more than 700 medical marijuana dispensaries open by the end of October, according a report by the LA Weekly.