NHPHA Discusses Its Cannabis Policy Position Statement

written by Rebecca Sky, former NHPHA President

At the end of January, the NHPHA Board of Directors approved a new policy position statement regarding cannabis. This was a result of much study, consultation with locally and nationally recognized subject-matter experts, and dialogue by both our policy committee and board of directors. The evidence base of what works and what doesn’t is ever expanding. The goal of our position statement is to allow NHPHA to share with decision-makers the science-backed evidence that is available regarding the pros and cons of various cannabis public policy approaches and the overall health impact of cannabis throughout the human life course.

Development of NHPHA’s Cannabis Public Policy Position Statement was a very considered process. It began last year with New Futures, a valued partner in our statewide public health advocacy efforts, approaching NHPHA and indicating that 2019 would be the year that serious consideration of legalization and commercialization would happen at the NH State House. It was time for NHPHA to find its voice on the matter. Kate Frey, a longtime NHPHA member and the New Futures Vice President of Advocacy, presented to our policy committee over the summer and provided significant technical assistance as the committee began to craft a policy statement. NHPHA leadership, including myself as then President; Rachel Maxwell, our policy committee chair at the time; and board member Shannon Bresaw, attended the APHA conference in November. We collectively attended many sessions with public health experts from across the country speaking on the topic of the public health impacts of legalization. We made connections with those subject-matter experts. A draft position statement was brought to the board for approval at the end of November. The board debated the statement and decided to form an ad hoc subcommittee to further discuss and rewrite the position statement. The process took two months, and another board discussion followed by a final rewrite before a statement was approved. As we go forward, your input is welcome in shaping NHPHA’s advocacy efforts on this challenging issue.

If you would like to be a part of the evolution of NHPHA’s work in this arena, please contact Jess Barnett at the NHPHA office at info@nhpha.org, who will connect you with the NHPHA policy committee.

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