The House of Representatives passed the MORE Act December 4, 2020. Properly characterized as a marijuana legalization act by USA Today, Bloomberg, Yahoo and many others, CNN called it a marijuana decriminalization act in deference to its sponsors Kamala Harris and Jerry Nadler. NBC went further, calling it a cannabis decriminalization act, since the act requires us to call marijuana by its currently politically correct name, cannabis.
Republican sponsor Matt Graetz of Florida commented, ““The MORE Act is flawed; it uses cannabis policy to do a great deal of social engineering to create new taxes and new programs and redistribution of assets. But I am here as the only Republican co-sponsor of the MORE Act, and I’m voting for it because the federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation. We have seen a generation, particularly of Black and Brown youth, locked up for offenses that should not have resulted in any incarceration whatsoever. I’m also deeply troubled that the current policy, the federal government inhibits research into cannabis, research that could unlock cures and help people live better lives. My Republican colleagues today will make a number of arguments against this bill, but those arguments are overwhelmingly losing with the American people.”
No one should tolerate lies, but why is Graetz willing to accept lies from the marijuana lobby?
- Incarceration is reserved for drug dealers, and criminals who plead down to a possession rap. Incarceration hasn’t been used for mere drug users for years and perhaps decades. We don’t have enough prison cells for that, even if it were effective and just.
- In the last decade over 15,000 research manuscripts were published in the biomedical literature. If the federal government is inhibiting research in the field, it isn’t doing a very good job of it.
- Marijuana-based medications continue to be approved by the FDA, including dronabinol, nabilone, and most recently, Epidiolex (cannabidiol). Marijuana itself cannot be approved by the FDA because it doesn’t meet any requirements of a potentially approvable drug compound.
It seems that lies from the marijuana lobby are taken as gospel. Just three days before the House vote, JAMA published real-world driving research showing that modest doses of marijuana’s THC or THC/CBD combinations impaired driving skills similarly to alcohol.
The US News and World Reports article of December 1 2020 fairly covered the JAMA-published research. They then asked Paul Armentano for comments to put the research in perspective. Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws). Armentano replied, “On this issue, the available literature is clear. THC-positive drivers generally possess nearly no elevated risk of accident compared to drug-negative drivers, and they possess, on average, a far lower risk of accident compared to drivers exposed to alcohol and most other controlled substances.”
“Nearly no elevated risk” is Armentano’s opinion even though the available literature shows that recreational marijuana commercialization has led to increased traffic fatalities estimated between 1.2 and 2.1 additional fatalities per billion vehicle miles traveled, depending upon the researcher performing the analysis. For Colorado, that amounts to between 66 and 113 additional traffic fatalities annually.
USNWR did not push back on Armentano’s dismissal of the traffic safety risk posed by THC-impaired drivers, nor did it point out that crashes caused by impaired drivers are not “accidents”. They are crimes.
Graetz’s final comment revealed the real reason he supports marijuana legalization – it’s popular with voters as shown by the recent election results that legalized marijuana in Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota. The results shouldn’t be too surprising given the 400:1 advertising expenditure differential between the marijuana lobby and those opposing legalization in 2020. And that doesn’t take into account news media support of marijuana legalization (see our posting of 10/26/2020, “Arizona Republic tests the limit of the First Amendment.”