Three United States Senators have proposed a new bill that would legalize the possession of marijuana nationwide. The draft bill comes as more and more states continue to decriminalize the drug.
The “Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act” would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and empower “states to implement their own cannabis laws.”
The draft legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., would establish 21 as the minimum age to buy marijuana, and would stipulate that any retail sale of the drug be limited to 10 ounces.
“The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act aims to end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances,” the draft proposal states. “Federal cannabis reforms are especially urgent as more and more states legalize the adult and medical use of cannabis.”
The act notes that 18 states have already legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana, while 37 states have enacted laws permitting the use of it for medical purposes.
In a 1932 Supreme Court case, Associate Justice Louis Brandeis noted that a benefit of having different states is that they can serve as laboratories to see which ideas are good, and which are not.
“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country,” he wrote.
With regards to recreational marijuana, states that have experimented with its legalization have seen dangerous results.
According to a 2019 research paper published in Missouri Medicine, since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012, Colorado has seen the following:
- Traffic deaths in which drivers test positive for marijuana increased 109%, while the total number of traffic deaths rose 31%.
- The annual number of emergency room visits related to marijuana increased 54%.
- The number of marijuana-related hospitalizations per annum rose 101%.
- Suicide incidents in which victims tested positive for marijuana increased from 14% to 23%.
Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.
One of the groups warning about the negative effects marijuana use can have on adolescents is Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).
The group boasts an impressive list of individuals on its “Science Advisory Board” including Dr. Hoover Adger, a professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Dr. A. Eden Evins, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
SAM’s president, Dr. Kevin Sabet, warned in a press release regarding the proposed bill that the “full commercial legalization of today’s highly potent marijuana will only deepen” harms on vulnerable communities.
In a letter to the three senators proposing the bill, SAM warned about three concerning trends among states that have legalized marijuana.
“First and foremost is the troubling rise of marijuana potency,” the letter notes. “Increasing use of high potency cannabis in adolescents and young adults is concerning because it is associated with an increased risk of addiction and with the development of psychosis.”
“States that commercialized the drug are seeing rising rates of youth use, hospitalizations, poison center calls, and other negative outcomes related to the drug,” the letter adds.
Especially concerning is that the bill is being considered just after 2020 had the largest ever annual increase in overdose deaths – from 70,980 in 2019 to 93,331 reported deaths in 2020.
Focus on the Family has warned about the negative effects of recreational marijuana for years. Not only does it have negative effects on user’s health, it also serves as a gateway drug for harder substances, like heroin. Ninety percent of those currently using hard drugs started with marijuana.
Please be in prayer that our nation’s leaders will make wise decisions regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana and pray that those who are currently addicted to drugs will find the help that they need.
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