Today, during a Judiciary Subcommittee hearing entitled Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform, Chairwoman Karen Bass entered written testimony submitted by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) President Dr. Kevin Sabet and Communications and Community Outreach Associate Will Jones into the official record.
“We are disappointed this hearing hosted no witnesses who support alternatives to marijuana commercialization, but we are grateful for the opportunity to submit testimony and see it entered into the official record,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and founder of SAM and former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “The promotion of drug use is not what our disadvantaged communities need to succeed, especially given today’s high potency marijuana is linked to mental illness, less productivity, impaired driving, and continued arrest disparities. None of these issues serve as a benefit to these communities and our nation as a whole.”
SAM’s testimony focused on the lack of witnesses at this hearing who oppose the legalization of marijuana, the presence of individuals who profit off of marijuana legalization, and the negative social, economic, and health harms of marijuana use and its legalization.
In one minority neighborhood of Denver, there is one marijuana business for every 47 residents. The proliferation of marijuana businesses in these communities is concerning, as research has shown that users of the drug are 2.6 times more likely to go on to abuse harder substances. Furthermore, frequent use of marijuana by youth is correlated with higher possibilities of welfare dependency and a permanent loss of up to eight IQ points.
In light of these harms, the testimony called for a middle ground approach to marijuana that could attract a bipartisan consensus: smart decriminalization instead of legalization and commercialization. The goal of effective and safe drug policy should be to reduce use and connect those who are suffering from addiction with recovery resources.