Researching cannabis should be a no-brainer as any nation debates its marijuana laws, but scientific research has long been blocked by Reefer Madness prohibitionists like Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions and there hasn’t been a serious effort to study the implications of various political models. Thankfully, Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (who filmed a welcome message for attendees at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Kauai) has reached across the political aisle to Republican Carlos Curbelo to develop a landmark cannabis research bill that can cut through the political rhetoric and give policymakers cold hard facts.
From Rep. Gabbard’s press release:
“For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed War on Drugs that has ruined people’s lives, torn families apart, and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges. In 2016 alone, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Our laws must be informed by facts — not emotion, manufactured stigma and myths. Our bipartisan legislation, the Marijuana Data Collection Act, will lay the groundwork for real reform by producing an objective, evidence-based report on current marijuana laws that exist in 31 states across the country, and their impact on our communities.”
“Federal lawmakers have long ignored the issues of our outdated federal marijuana policy,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo said.“In recent years, however, voters across the country – including in my home state of Florida and overwhelmingly in my district – have called for modernized marijuana policies in their states. This bill takes a commonsense step toward allowing unbiased research into the impacts that marijuana has had in states that have chosen to legally regulate it. I am proud to support the bipartisan Marijuana Data Collection Act to ensure the federal government is no longer an obstacle to legal, regulated marijuana and starts being part of the discussion for a new federal policy.”
Justin Strekal, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Political Director, said: “We appreciate Representative Gabbard for her tremendous leadership in the fight to reform our nation’s failed policy of prohibition. From emphasizing that marijuana policy be evidence-based, to tasking the National Academies with this important work, to her role as a lead on HR 1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Rep. Gabbard has been one of the most prominent voices in calling for a new sensible approach to cannabis.”
“We look forward to a study conducted by an independent federal agency that isn’t invested in continuing marijuana prohibition,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. ”Lawmakers and regulators at the state and federal level will benefit from a serious look at the effects of making cannabis legal for medical and adult use. There is already plenty of evidence showing that regulation is working in the states, but we need to look at the potential public health and economic impacts of further reforms, and the real costs of continuing to ban a substance that research shows may be helping to reduce the damage caused by the opioid problem.”
The Marijuana Data Collection Act would:
Require data collection and study with regard to the impact of state-regulated marijuana legalization on public health, safety, the economy, and criminal justice, among other issues.
Require the Secretary of HHS to coordinate with the DOJ, DOL, and States (to the greatest extent possible) and direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to publish a biennial study on the health, safety, and economic effects of state legalized marijuana programs.
The Report would also outline best practices for state-led data collection, as well as recommendations to overcome any barriers preventing data collection and gaps in data.
You would think that officials on both sides of the cannabis debate would sign onto such a research proposal, but at this time, no anti-legalization member of Congress is co-sponsoring the bill and the nation’s leading prohibition Smarter Alternatives to Marijuana hasn’t provided a statement, despite a request from Forbes’ contributor Tom Angell. The silence from prohibitionists is deafening, a very significant tell, in that they know that the facts don’t back up their position.
Those of us fighting to end the failed, harmful, and racist policy of cannabis prohibition welcome the Marijuana Data Collection Act, introduced, knowing that the facts on the ground prove that legalization is a much better policy than prohibition. Like alcohol prohibition before it, it is time for federal cannabis prohibition to get swept into the dustbin of history. The sooner that more open-minded officials and voters learn the facts, the sooner that we can legalize more freedom and create more jobs and generate more revenue for communities across the nation. Contact your representative and senators and urge them to support this common-sense research bill.
Learn about the latest laws and regulations for the cannabis industry and network with top investors, entrepreneurs, and advocates from around the world at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, this September 27th-28th. Get your tickets by September 12th to save $200!