Today, a coalition of social justice, drug prevention, recovery, family, and faith organizations penned a joint letter to the leadership of the United States House of Representatives strongly opposing the MORE Act, a bill to federally legalize the commercial marijuana industry that is tentatively scheduled for a vote the week of September 21st.
According to the letter the MORE Act would not simply decriminalize marijuana, as some proponents have claimed, but rather “fully legalize and commercialize the drug. This would allow major corporations like Altria (formerly Philip Morris, makers of Marlboro Cigarettes), vaping giants Juul and PAX, and Imperial Brands (makers of Kool Cigarettes) to deepen their existing investments into the marijuana industry and expand those investments to capture the United States market.”
“Allowing a massive corporate takeover of an addictive drug with scientifically proven public health harms is not good for our nation as we continue to grapple with a global pandemic, along with a crippling opioid crisis,” the letter continued. “The ‘MORE’ Act contains virtually no public health guardrails. If passed, the bill would fully legalize unlimited potency marijuana products, including high potency flavored vapes in Juul-like devices and nearly any other product appealing to youth.”
“Almost 200,000 Americans have lost their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic, and countless others are barely making ends meet as a result of the economic fallout. That anyone in Congress could fathom holding so much as a meeting on marijuana legalization at this time is beyond comprehension,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “We are proud to lead such a broad coalition in opposition to this bill and are happy to report that we have already seen thousands of our supporters take action against this bill.”
Full text of the letter:
September 16, 2020
RE: Oppose the Commercialization and Mass Marketing of High Potency Marijuana
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader Hoyer, Whip Scalise, Chairman Nadler, and Ranking Member Jordan,
There have been reports that the House of Representatives may take up and vote on H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act later this month. As Americans on the front lines in the battle against opioid and drug addiction, and on the side of treatment and prevention, we write to strongly oppose this bill.
This legislation is being touted as a social justice bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana and expunging the record of low-level offenders. In fact, this bill as currently drafted would not just decriminalize marijuana, but fully legalize and commercialize the drug. This would allow major corporations like Altria (formerly Philip Morris, makers of Marlboro Cigarettes), vaping giants Juul and PAX, and Imperial Brands (makers of Kool Cigarettes) to deepen their existing investments into the marijuana industry and expand those investments to capture the United States market.
The latest research and science should bring us all pause:
Recent research published by JAMA predicts 6,800 additional stoned driving deaths on the road nationally should federal legalization become reality.
Illicit markets have thrived in every ‘legal’ state, such as Oregon, where illegal marijuana makes up more than 70% of the market.
The for-profit marijuana industry targets kids, both offline and on social media.
Marijuana is addictive and may cause mental illnesses, ranging from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia and psychosis, and even suicidal thoughts, even more when initiated in youth.
Marijuana use has an association with future substance misuse and addiction. Research has found users of marijuana are more likely to misuse prescription opioids. Though the majority of those using marijuana won’t go on to other drugs, more than 95% of those using heroin and cocaine started with marijuana.
Marijuana use can severely impact brain development in youth, leading to lower IQ and worse mental health, academic, and professional outcomes.
With a for-profit industry marketing in a variety of ways, more pregnant women than ever are using marijuana, and this has resulted in severe consequences for newborns.
Marijuana use can also cause cardiovascular harm and may lead to certain kinds of cancer.
The “MORE” Act contains virtually no public health guardrails. If passed, the bill would fully legalize unlimited potency marijuana products, including high potency flavored vapes in Juul-like devices and nearly any other product appealing to youth. Any form of advertising would be allowed, including on television and during events such as the Super Bowl.
Allowing a massive corporate takeover of an addictive drug with scientifically proven public health harms is not good for our nation as we continue to grapple with a global pandemic, along with a crippling opioid crisis. Should this bill pass into law, the FDA and USDA will not have the resources or ability to effectively regulate these products for the safety of consumers.
We urge you to reject this bill.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA)
National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys
National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA)
Family Policy Alliance
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Family Research Council
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
National Drug Free Workplace Alliance
National Families in Action
Drug Free Schools Coalition
Coalition of Public Safety Officer Support Services
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
International Faith Based Coalition
Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc.
Rosenthal Center for Addiction Studies
Drug Free America Foundations, Inc.
Save Our Society from Drugs
Resilient Futures Network, LLC
California Narcotic Officers Association
Florida Coalition Alliance
Greater New Orleans Drug Demand Reduction Coalition
Cannabis Industry Victims Educating Litigators
Marijuana Victims Alliance
Parents Opposed to Pot
Every Brain Matters