An Organization of American States study is calling for a serious discussion about marijuana policy.
The report, issued today, is a good first step, but should not be construed as an endorsement of marijuana legalization or policies outside United Nations drug control treaties, said two former top U.S. drug policy officials who served on the panel that produced the report. (more…)
At meeting with state legislators in Atlanta, Ga., today, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said the dichotomy of “punishment versus rehabilitation” oversimplifies the issue of marijuana legalization. He said he worries about legal marijuana being marketed to kids; presumes marijuana revenues will be outweighed by the costs of abuse; and favors arrests for users that lead to treatment, assessments and warning hearings. (more…)
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Today, Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Director Kevin A. Sabet released a statement:
“We applaud the President for definitively expressing that legalization is not the answer to our drug problems. President Obama’s drug strategy emphasizes a comprehensive approach to drug policy based on reducing the demand and supply for drugs in the United States. The President’s comments were:
“I’ve been asked, and I honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer,” the president said. “But I do believe that a comprehensive approach, not just law enforcement, but education and prevention and treatment, that’s what we have to do. We’re going to have to stay at it, because of the lives of our children and the futures of our nations depend on it.”
– President Obama, May 3, 2013
Release: May 6, 2013
Today, Kevin A. Sabet, Director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) released this statement on the California Supreme Court decision specifying that cities and towns can ban medical marijuana “dispensaries”:
“It is universally accepted that California’s medical marijuana system is a sad joke. This unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court underscores the importance of localities ensuring what is best for their residents’ safety. In many cases, medical marijuana “dispensaries” are, as one leader of the pro-marijuana movement put it once, ‘little more than dope dealers with store fronts.’ Though we all want the sick and dying access to medications to ease their suffering, research has found that the average California medical marijuana card holder is a 32-year-old white male with no history of debilitating illness. Peer-reviewed, published research has also found that less than 2% of California cardholders have HIV/AIDS, cancer, or glaucoma. The California Supreme Court should be applauded for allowing localities to ban these cash-only stores, which are often magnets for robbery, murder, and disorder. Real medical marijuana would focus on non-smoked applications of the drug dispensed by pharmacies under the supervision of physicians – not self-described ’pot docs’ that sell recommendations for ‘Super Silver Haze’ for $100 a pop to anyone with a headache.”
Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) applauds Temple University’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CSAR) for their discovery into the potential medical benefits of synthetic derivatives of marijuana for HIV/AIDS patients. (more…)
Federal and state attorneys general must take action to end marijuana standoff, promote public and mental health
FOR RELEASE May 2, 2013
STATEMENT TO THE PRESS BY:
Patrick J. Kennedy, on behalf of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (Project SAM)
Lead Sponsor of Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (D)
Congressman Andy Harris, MD
Medical Doctor, U.S. Representative Andy Harris from Maryland’s 1st district (R)
(Washington, D.C.) – At a Congressional briefing held to capacity on April 26, 2012, former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-RI) was presented with 40,000 signatures from around the world urging the U.S. government to support drug prevention efforts and oppose legalization. These signatures were presented to the Office of Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).
Since November, when Colorado passed an initiative to legalize marijuana, state and federal officials have been in a standoff. Clearly, states may not legalize marijuana production, sales, and use without violating federal law. And most importantly, doing so would not only violate the law, it would threaten safety and public health, especially mental health. Supporting marijuana legalization is completely inconsistent with supporting a robust mental health system.
Congressman Andy Harris, MD (R-MD) questioned Attorney General Eric Holder on April 18, 2013 during a Committee on Appropriations hearing about the discrepancy which has arisen between the new Colorado and Washington laws vis-à-vis the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) regarding recreational usage of marijuana. Congressman Harris addressed the possibility of the CSA preempting both state laws and urged the Department of Justice to enforce the CSA which would send a clear message to America’s youth that this drug is not safe.
“As a physician I understand the importance of making therapeutic pharmaceutical agents available to those who could benefit,” said Congressman Harris. “Efforts to isolate and identify components of marijuana that have therapeutic usefulness should be done expeditiously – but that shouldn’t mean widespread use of marijuana itself outside of validated clinical trials.”
Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske have just placed Colorado state officials on notice that it is state officials’ responsibility to uphold federal law. At a National Press Club luncheon address on April 17, 2013, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said, “No state, no executive can nullify a statute that has been passed by Congress. . . . Let’s be clear: law enforcement officers take an oath of office to uphold federal law and they are going to continue to pursue drug traffickers and drug dealers.” http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/17/drug-czar-no-state-can-nullify-federal-marijuana-ban/ (emphasis added)
In the Appropriations Committee hearing on April 18, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “When it comes to these marijuana initiatives, I think among the kinds of things we will have to consider is the impact on children, along with factors such as violence connected to trafficking and organized crime.” And, he also said, “We are certainly going to enforce federal law.” http://seattletimes.com/html/politics/2020807855_apusholdermarijuana.html (emphasis added)
In his January 21, 2012 editorial (titled, “Despite state constitution, medical marijuana violates federal law) published in the Colorado Springs Gazette, [Mr.] Colorado Attorney General John Suthers concluded, “In a dispute on whether federal laws trump state laws under the Supremacy Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say.” The “law of the land,” according to Mr. Suthers, is Gonzales v. Raich, in which “the Supreme Court held that even when marijuana is grown, distributed and consumed within a single state, it does affect interstate commerce and is therefore subject to federal regulation.” http://www.gazette.com/articles/federal-132103-state-gazette.html (emphasis added)
Forcing the federal government to take action against Colorado, at the expense of both federal and state taxpayers, seems a waste of resources when the conclusion is inevitable. Attorney General John Suthers already has acknowledged the federal government’s right to enforce federal drug laws against Colorado. And, as Mr. Suthers correctly noted in his editorial, he took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. Constitution as well as the Colorado Constitution. Federal officials have now reminded him of that oath.
Colorado Attorney General Suthers needs to step up and do the right thing in the name of not only the U.S. Constitution, but also the public safety and well being of Coloradans. For those same reasons and for the benefit of all Americans, Attorney General Holder needs to make good on his promise to enforce federal law.
Project SAM Discusses Link Between Marijuana and Mental Illness, Presents 40,000 Signatures in Favor of Marijuana Prevention
(Washington, DC) – Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) held a briefing today at the House Rayburn building (room 2203) to discuss the link between marijuana and mental illness. They also presented almost 40,000 signatures to the House and Senate leadership in support of marijuana prevention and in opposition to marijuana legalization.
“Science has revealed more about the link between mental illness and marijuana use in the last ten years, and it is important that the American people understand that as we make critical policy decisions in the coming years,” commented SAM co-founder Patrick J. Kennedy.
Kennedy was also joined by Dr. Christian Thurstone, medical director of one of Colorado’s largest youth substance-abuse-treatment clinics and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver. “Colorado is already seeing the deleterious effects of a very loose medical marijuana system,” he commented. “Now, with legalization, we are witnessing how ‘Big Marijuana’ – that is a new industry dedicated to profiting off legal marijuana use – is influencing youth behavior.”
Former White House drug advisor Dr. Kevin Sabet also discussed how the science of marijuana should lead policy makers to take a more nuanced view of policy moving forward. “We are on a 100 mile-per-hour freight train heading right towards legalization, and yet we have not, as a country, had a reasonable discussion about the possible negative consequences of such a policy. Such consequences will hit the most vulnerable first, like young people, communities of color, and those predisposed to mental illness. Don’t we at least owe it to ourselves to carefully weigh any gains of such a policy with the potential risks?”
Finally, treatment leader Carmen Fernandez, of Mexico, discussed how legalization would hurt the Mexican people. “Marijuana legalization in the US will destabilize our country,” she commented. “That is why nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition to the US Congress to not legalize marijuana but rather focus on reducing the insatiable demand for the drug.”
Kevin A. Sabet, Co-Founder of Project SAM offers comment on Rep. Dana Rohrbacher’s proposal for marijuana legalization:
“Mr Rohrbacher’s latest attempt to legalize marijuana will likely suffer the same fate as his several previous failed attempts have over the past decade. The Pew poll was just that — one poll. It reflects, more than anything, the lopsided discussion about legalization in this country. I’d like to know how how many of those who said they supported legalization also realized that we are going to have a Big Marijuana marketing their products to kids just like Big Tobacco did for 80 years. How many of those polled realized that, like alcohol and tobacco, society won’t come close to generating new tax revenue due to increased social costs from legalization? How many people realized that legalized marijuana would not put a dent in the incarceration rate? Two states out of 5 have legalized marijuana (Oregon failed in 2012; CA failed in 2010; Nevada failed in 2006). When today’s 20-somethings start to have kids and realize they don’t want mental illness, learning dysfunction, car crashes, and lower IQs in their families, they might well change their minds about this issue just like Baby Boomer’s did in the 1970s.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has issued a strong statement regarding implementation of Amendment 64, the state constitutional amendment Colorado voters approved last year to legalize marijuana for recreational use. (more…)