Tag archives: marijuana

Democrats (and Some Republicans) Are Pushing to Fully Legitimize Marijuana

by Family Research Council

March 31, 2022

The movement to legalize the recreational use of marijuana has seen astonishing success in the U.S. over the last decade. After voters in Colorado approved a ballot initiative to legalize its recreational use in 2012, 17 other states, plus Washington, D.C. and Guam, followed suit and legalized recreational pot over the next nine years.

The head-spinning sea change that has occurred in how our culture views marijuana over a relatively short period of time is hard to fathom. Not long ago, smoking pot was largely seen as a vice—and an illegal one—that was mostly indulged by rebellious teenagers and west coast hippies. Now, United States senators and congressman passionately advocate for the full legalization of marijuana from the Senate and House floors with straight faces.

While there are a multitude of reasons why this has happened, the indisputable fact is that marijuana has been federally registered as a Schedule 1 drug (alongside heroin and LSD) since the 1970s for a simple reason: it contains high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a powerful psychoactive chemical that is highly addictive, has high potential for abuse, and can cause an array of negative psychotropic effects including anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, panic, paranoia, and psychosis. What’s more, the concentration of THC in marijuana has increased three-fold from 1995-2014, exponentially increasing the risks of widespread addiction, abuse, and detrimental health effects.

Despite the clear dangers that marijuana poses to public health, Democrats in the House have brought forward the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 (H.R. 3617) for a vote this Friday. This bill would de-schedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, making it fully legal at the federal level. It also includes provisions to dramatically increase financial investments into the marijuana industry, including tax incentives for marijuana businesses and legalizing advertisements for marijuana products, making it easier for these businesses to manufacture high-potency and kid-friendly products. While many of the bill’s co-sponsors are Democrats, they aren’t its exclusive supporters. And Republicans have increasingly been supporting the legitimization of marijuana in recent years. This is problematic.

De-scheduling the drug is bad enough, but the MORE Act contains almost no public health guardrails or regulations. This will open the door for international drug cartels—who already use marijuana legalization as a cover for their illicit activities—to have increased money laundering access.

At a time when the opioid epidemic and other illicit drugs continue to ravage our communities, the last thing we need is the legalization of more recreational drugs. Contact your congressmen and urge them to vote against the MORE Act ahead of tomorrow’s vote in the House.

The Public Is Being Primed To Feel Groovy About Psychedelic Drugs

by Jennifer Bauwens, Ph.D.

December 9, 2021

Right now, there is a concerted effort to change the American public’s attitude towards psychedelic drugs. Turn on Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services, and you’re likely to find shows and documentaries on the usefulness of drugs like LSD (acid), DMT (spirit molecule), MDMA (ecstasy or mollies), and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). These shows are the first public signs that we are being primed to accept the recreational and “prescription” use of psychedelics to solve both our mental and spiritual ills.

Since the Nixon years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has marked psychedelics as schedule 1 substances because they lack clinical value, can be addictive, and hold the potential for long-term physiological and psychological damage, including schizophrenia-type symptoms.

Given this classification, how does one change public opinion about a class of drugs associated with images tucked firmly in the American consciousness of spun-out flower children whirling around the grass at Woodstock or loitering aimlessly on the streets of Haight-Ashbury?

According to Edward Bernays, the father of public relations and nephew to Sigmund Freud, in order to “manipulate the public to think a certain way, it needs to be taught how to ask for what it [the manipulator] wants.” Robert Worchester, a political analyst, described public opinion by making a distinction between attitudes, opinions, and values. He noted that a person’s values are the most impervious to change; however, through continued exposure, thought, and discussion, these too can be shaped.

When it comes to influencing our view about psychedelics, what could possibly compete with the images of dancing hippies? What about a growing body of scientific literature that claims the use of these drugs can help resistant anxiety, posttraumatic stress, depression, alcohol, and tobacco abuse?

For the past 30 years, research studies involving psychedelics were not backed by public funds—until recently. Studies have been popping up in clinicaltrials.gov. There have even been several reports, with small sample sizes, touted as “success stories” for reducing mental health symptoms by microdosing these drugs.

Mental health is certainly a concern for Americans. This week, a Gallup poll found that Americans rated their mental health at an all-time low, with only 34 percent giving themselves an excellent score. Aside from this poll, we know that our society is facing significant mental health challenges, with nearly 20 percent of the population suffering from anxiety disorders and suicide ranked as one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States.

The media is not the only group riding high on our mental health problems. Groups like Mind-Medicine, a pharmaceutical start-up, are seeking FDA (national) approval for psychedelics, under the expectation that the drugs will provide an alternative treatment to the aforementioned mental health conditions. Veterans and first responders have already been enlisted in these studies.

The co-founder of Mind Medicine stated their goal is to “get the average person to realize that these are not evil drugs—they can be used as medicines and be successful at treating unmet medical needs.”

Aside from the attempt to lend credibility to these drugs through science, there has already been a push to legalize psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Some states and cities have already moved to legalize these substances for recreational use. These places include Denver, Colorado; Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, Michigan; Somerville, Cambridge, and Northampton, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; and Oregon. Seattle is the largest city to decriminalize all psychedelic plants and fungi for religious, spiritual, healing, or personal growth practices.

California is currently proposing its own measures to legalize psilocybin mushrooms, truffles, sclerotia, and mycelium. Iowa is following suit, but with an additional bill that would reclassify psilocybin, ibogaine, and MDMA for medicinal purposes.

The real goal here is to nationalize the use of these drugs, which have the potential to significantly alter our society and offer bad treatment for those suffering from trauma, anxiety, and depression. The strategy we are seeing to promote psychedelics has been taken right out of the playbook of Big Marijuana. Rather than fight the arduous battle of changing the schedule 1 designation at the federal level, there’s a major push to make these drugs respectable. Research studies and popular media will continue to promote medical benefits associated with these drugs, but the endgame is for psychedelics to be legalized at every local and state level for recreational use.

Fighting major pharmaceutical and research industries may seem like an uphill battle. However, there are important steps that we can take to slow this fast-moving train:

  • First, it is critical that the research community engages in truthful scientific research and is aware of the increasing push to medicalize these drugs.

  • Second, there needs to be greater accountability regarding the influence and financial benefits enjoyed by the Big Pharma industry in pushing these drugs. Organizations like Smart Approaches to Marijuana have been pushing back on the financial and political influence of Big Marijuana. We need more groups to give oversight to the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Finally, the church has an important role to play in offering true healing and answers to people who might otherwise try to find comfort in marijuana or psychedelic drugs.

The Case Against Marijuana Legalization: 3 Myths Debunked

by Hugh Phillips

July 17, 2019

On July 10, the House Judiciary committee held a hearing entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform.” The pro-pot panel that testified before the committee made many fantastic and outlandish claims to support the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

Claim 1: “Teen use of marijuana drops with legalization.”

One of the claims the panel made about recreational marijuana legalization is that when a state legalizes marijuana, adolescent usage declines. Yet, this claim does not match logic. As Charles Stimson notes, when marijuana is legalized, use by minors will rise because all deterrents have been removed:

Marijuana’s illegal status “keeps potential drug users from using” marijuana in a way that no legalization scheme can replicate “by virtue of the fear of arrest and the embarrassment of being caught.” With increased use comes increased abuse, as the fear of arrest and embarrassment will decrease.

Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) challenged the assumption that minors would be protected if the drug is legalized by pointing to the fact that legalization had “increased unintended exposure by young children” and “tripled” calls to poison centers for kids mistakenly “ingesting” marijuana. Thus, Rep. Cline asked Mr. Nathan, a member of the panel, “Have you seen youth access to legalization increase as a result of legalization?” Mr. Nathan was forced to admit that many more kids were mistakenly ingesting marijuana in legalized states. This shows that marijuana is much more accessible to minors and ripe for abuse in states were the substance is being made legal.

Claim 2: “The marijuana black market will be dismantled by legalization.”

The panel also made the argument that federal legalization would create a “regulated market” and take away the power of the black market. Yet, Neal Levine, representative of the Cannabis Trade Federation, was forced to admit that despite state regulation in states that had legalized marijuana, the black market was still the legal industry’s greatest “competitor.” This is backed up by research that shows the black market is the main seller in some legalized states. Even liberal California governor Gavin Newsom has admitted that the black market in California got more powerful after legalization. The governor has even recently deployed the California National Guard in an effort to halt illegal growers.

It is clear that government regulation does not stop the black market. In fact, if the federal government chooses to legalize and regulate pot, government intervention may very well increase the size and volatility of the black market as criminals seek to sell more potent strands of the drug than federal law allows.

Claim 3: “Marijuana is safer and causes less dependency than alcohol or tobacco.”

This claim made by a member of the panel is one of the most easily debunked myths about marijuana. The National Institute of Health has proven that marijuana is a gateway drug. Those who use marijuana become almost three times more likely to become addicted to opioids. The National Institute of Health also notes that, “Marijuana is associated with a six-fold increase in suicide.” This is just a fraction of the detrimental heath consequences associated with marijuana use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has noted that marijuana hinders brain development, can cause “paranoia,” hurts the respiratory system, and can cause permanent brain damage. The evidence is clear—marijuana is a dangerous drug and must not be legalized in the United States.

We Must Stand Against Marijuana Legalization

Legalization or decriminalization of recreational marijuana use on the federal level is bad policy. The STATES Act (H.R. 2093) and the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) are just steps in the road to complete legalization. Not only do they stand upon questionable constitutional foundations, but they would increase the many social detriments associated with marijuana, including rises in drug abuse, crime, criminal trafficking, and mental health problems. Family health and safety would be degraded across the United States if these two pieces of legislation were to pass and put the U.S. on the road to legalization. For the sake of America’s families, Congress should reject the STATES Act and SAFE Banking Act, keep marijuana illegal, and focus on more effective ways of stopping the interstate drug trade.

Hugh Phillips is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council working on pro-life legislation.

Congressmen Defend Federal Role in Blocking D.C. Marijuana Legalization

by Nick Frase

December 17, 2014

Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) has been blacklisted from a local Washington D.C. bike shop, at least according to the sign in their window reading “Andy Harris Not Welcome.” For those planning to visit who want to avoid a similar fate, the cautionary tale here is don’t expect to uphold federal marijuana laws in the District if you want to get your derailleur adjusted.

Earlier this month, Rep. Harris successfully attached bipartisan language to the omnibus spending deal designed to block enactment of a marijuana legalization initiative that the District passed in November. Pot activists have decried the action as an example of an outsider meddling in local affairs. “You don’t serve us, we don’t serve you” is the tagline to their blacklist sign, a reference to the fact that Rep. Harris’ district is in Maryland and not in D.C.

What’s going on, aren’t Republican’s for self-government and local control?

It’s a fair question to ask and one that Rep. Harris along with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) have addressed in a Washington Post op-ed. I won’t attempt to repeat it here but the thrust of the argument is: yes, Republicans are the party of self-government and local control, but they’re also the party of the Constitution and respect for the rule of law.

Federal law is explicit, under the Controlled Substances Act it is unlawful to manufacture, distribute or possess marijuana. Furthermore, Article I, § 8, cl. 17I of the Constitution grants Congress the power to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever” over the District of Columbia. The charge that Congress is somehow treating the District unfairly or in a way they would not treat another city ignores the fact that the District is unlike any other city.

Every year, the Appropriations Committee, on which Rep. Harris sits, provides federal payments to the tune of $500,000,000 to the District of Columbia for the cost of judges, court personnel and defendant representation. They provide payments for programs in areas like education and security. The Department of Justice provides payment for federal attorneys to prosecute local crimes and house prisoners. Federal taxpayers do not fund similar activities in any other city.

As Reps. Harris and Pitts rightly point out in their op-ed, if marijuana laws aren’t confusing enough, nearly a quarter of the District is federal park land and is policed by 26 different enforcement agencies—places and personnel that would still answer to federal law, not D.C. legalization.

Congress has a direct responsibility over the District of Columbia. One that apparently gets you kicked out of bike shops.

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