Senate drug caucus holds anti-marijuana legalization hearing

The U.S. Senate’s Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing Tuesday in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in February which accused the Justice Department (DOJ) of failing to document the effects of state legalization of marijuana.

The Caucus, chaired by Sens. Grassley (R-IA) and Feinstein (D-CA), called three anti-drug legalization witnesses to testify about the consequences of legitimizing marijuana use on the state-level.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, a U.S. Attorney from Sacramento and an anti-legalization advocacy group board member all shared statistical and anecdotal evidence, arguing against pro-marijuana policies which have been fully adopted in four states.

The GAO report in question triggered Grassley and Feinstein to hold hearings because it called out DOJ for not following federal guidelines laid out in 2013 to “monitor” the process of legally regulated marijuana sales in Washington state and Colorado.

As a result of the anti-legalization bias of the panel, panelist and the four senators in attendance were able to get away with citing questionable statistical evidence which has been contradicted by reliable sources.

Sen. Feinstein, for example, said marijuana use among 12-17 year olds has “escalated dramatically in the states that have legalized marijuana.”  According to the Colorado state health department, use among high school students actually declined between 2011 and 2013, albeit by a statistically insignificant amount.

Similarly, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has reported a .2 percent increase in marijuana use for 12-17 year olds in Colorado between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 and a .1 percent decline in Washington state during the same period of time.

Nebraska’s AG also testified the following: “I can tell you story after story of . . . high school students gathering up their money and sending a buyer into Colorado and bringing [marijuana] edibles back or bringing the product back.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, marijuana use among high schoolers actually declined between 2012 and 2014 and stayed the same in the states of Washington and Colorado.

“(Marijuana) is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . good people don’t smoke marijuana,” Sen. Jeff Sessions informed the panel.

Sen. Grassley started to get serious when he said that the, “Centers for Disease Control found that people who are addicted to marijuana are three times more likely to be addicted to heroin.”  Grassley failed to mention that the report also says that there is just as strong of a correlation between heroin and alcohol and prescription drug abuse.

It may be no surprise that the two chairman of the Senate drug caucus also happen to be the oldest members in Congress’ upper-chamber.

According to the Washington Post, national support for the legalization of marijuana is at an all-time high of 61 percent.


[US News & World Report] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy]