(Washington, DC)- In an open letter to Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, a coalition of organizations representing medical professionals, treatment specialists, faith communities, families and other stakeholders raises concerns over the health and safety risks of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act––this bill, which lacks many safeguards for public health, would deschedule and legalize marijuana federally. The coalition, led by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), also voices concern over how the commercialization of the marijuana industry will undermine public health and safety for the sake of profit.
The letter states, “This bill would allow major corporations to deepen their existing investments in the marijuana industry and solidify their grasp on the market. To consolidate the industry and grow their market share, the largest companies are following the playbook of Big Tobacco, prioritizing their self-interest over the well-being of their customers.”
Among the health and safety concerns highlighted in the letter are:
- National legalization would result in 6,800 additional deaths from marijuana-impaired drivers.
- Marijuana use has been linked to mental illnesses, ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and psychosis, and even suicidal thoughts, especially among youth.
- 3 in 10 users will develop a cannabis use disorder.
- Marijuana use can severely impact brain development in youth, leading to lower IQ and worse mental health, academic, and professional outcomes.
SAM and the signatories to the letter join bipartisan opposition to the bill within the Senate, making it unlikely to pass.
Another cannabis-related bill, The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act, passed the House last week and is expected to quickly pass the Senate for President Biden’s signature. The bill, which SAM helped draft and has supported for several years, streamlines the application process for marijuana research, encourages the FDA to develop marijuana-derived medicines, and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to report on the potential benefits and harms of marijuana use to Congress – all without altering marijuana’s Schedule I status or legalizing the drug.
The full SAM coalition letter is available here
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy. We are professionals working in mental health and public health. We are bipartisan. We are medical doctors, lawmakers, treatment providers, preventionists, teachers, law enforcement officers and others who seek a middle road between incarceration and legalization. Our commonsense, third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.