President Trump indicates he may support Congress easing the U.S. ban on marijuana.

If you didn’t already know from reading this blog I am a Conservative.  I am against Socialism and support Capitalism.  I support conservative values, less regulation and government interference in our lives and a conservative approach to fiscal matters.  I believe that we are a nation of laws and the government is obligated to enforce those laws.  I believe that we should take care of children, the elderly and those with physical or mental impairments but able bodied adults should support themselves and their own families (I am a strong proponent of welfare to work programs vs. lifetime welfare).  I believe in a legal path to citizenship and vetting of those who want to come to the U.S.  I am a strong proponent of the First Amendment and our right to free speech.  I am a strong proponent of the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms.   I believe America is the greatest country on earth and the land of opportunity (one only has to know my personal story to know why I believe America is the land of opportunity).  I am thankful to be an American.  It’s no secret that I support President Trump and support mostly Republican candidates in the mid-term elections (I don’t vote down party lines I vote for the best candidates.  There are some Republicans I do not support.  That is no secret either). 

Generally I believe President Trump is doing a good job.  Our economy is booming (95% of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future – the highest level ever and retail sales continue to surge).  The job market is booming (more Americans are now employed than in recorded history and new unemployment claims hit a 49-year low)  Consumer confidence is booming.  We are again showing America to be a world superpower.  The FDA has approved more affordable generic drugs then ever before and many drug companies are freezing or reversing planned price increases.  The government has dedicated $6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic and increased military funding.  New trade deals are being negotiated to increase U.S. exports.

There are some areas where I am disappointed in the Administration.  The effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is number one on my list.  As an entrepreneur the ACA has increased my healthcare costs dramatically (as it did for many other entrepreneurs, mid-market businesses and non-profits).  I am disappointed that a wall on the U.S./Mexico border has yet to be built.  As I said above there are legal paths to citizenship and given the acts of terrorism around the world (for example in Europe which has open borders) I believe every person coming to America requires vetting.  I wish President Trump would lose Twitter’s web address (I understand why he Tweets but I wish he’d use Twitter much differently).  Other Conservatives may not agree but I wish President Trump would do more to bring our nation together (just as I wish President Obama had done).  We are divided.  I believe that many have an unsubstantiated hatred for our President but as the leader of the free world I do believe it’s up to President Trump to make an effort to bring us together.

Unfortunately I have another disappointment to add to the list.  I am very anti-drug.  I’ve had family members and friends with family members who have fought substance abuse.  Just a week ago I attended the funeral of a 30-year old woman who overdosed leaving behind a 9-year old daughter.  Since 2011 I have sat on the Board of Directors of a non-profit drug and alcohol treatment facility.  If the opportunity presented itself I’d do more on the front lines on the fight against addiction.  I can’t watch another young person fight drug abuse or worse lose their life to addiction.

Trump

So imagine my disappointment in President Trump’s support of a bill in the Senate to leave the decision to individual states to determine the best approach to marijuana.  Over the summer President Trump was quoted as saying “We’re looking at it but I will probably end up supporting that (bill)”.  President Trump’s remarks conflicted a memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January 2018 freeing Prosecutors to more aggressively enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have decriminalized marijuana.  Currently 30 states and the District of Columbia that have “legalized” marijuana and a total of 46 states that have some form of marijuana laws   (laws regarding “legalized” marijuana, “decriminalizing” marijuana and “medical marijuana”).

According to a study by the University of New England marijuana use will increase under legalization because it is accessible and available.  The study shows that legalized marijuana in Colorado is not well regulated, teen usage has increased (the study showed teen marijuana usage in Colorado is 50% above the national average) and the number of fatal car crashes with drivers testing positive for marijuana rose sharply.  The study also found that in states with medical marijuana laws the average user is a male in his 30’s with no terminal illness and a history of drug abuse.   According to the study marijuana contributes to psychosis and schizophrenia in 1 in 6 kids who ever use it once and reduces the IQ among those who started smoking before the age of 18.  The study goes on to state that legalized marijuana will increase public costs.  For every $1 in alcohol and tobacco tax revenues society loses $10 in social costs from accidents to health damage.

According to a March 2018 story in Forbes Magazine in Sonoma County California legalized marijuana has spawned home invasions, violent crimes and robberies.  In the article Attorney General Jeff Sessions is quoted as saying “We’re seeing real violence around [legal marijuana].  Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”

According to a 2017 article in The Guardian Colorado has experienced an 8% increase in homelessness since marijuana legalization.   “There’s no question that marijuana and other drugs – in combination with mental illness or other disabling conditions – are essential contributors to chronic homelessness,” Governor John Hickenlooper was quoted in the article.  Daniel Starrett, a divisional commander of the Salvation Army. said “The marijuana industry needs to accept responsibility for unintended consequences of their impact on society,”.  He went on to say that the financial burden of marijuana use on struggling families can lead to them losing their homes.  Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, blamed legal marijuana for acts of violence in the city.  The mayor said “This is one of the results of the legalization of marijuana in Denver and we’re going to have to deal with it.”

A 2018 King’s College of London study showed that half of all first time patients admitted for drug treatment worldwide are for marijuana – even more than heroin and cocaine combined.

A 2017 Bristol University study found that teens who regularly smoke marijuana are 26-times more likely to begin using other drugs by the age of 21 and 3-times more likely to have an alcohol problem as compared to teens who don’t smoke marijuana.

A 2017 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute reported that car crashes are up in states that have decriminalized marijuana as compared to neighboring states.

A 2014 study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America showed that marijuana smokes have shrunken brains and a lower IQ.

A 2014 paper written by Professor Wayne Hall to the World Health Organization provides the results of a 20-year research study.  Professor Hall reports that marijuana doubles mental impairment, psychosis, increases drop out, tobacco smoking, car accidents and rates of other illicit drug use.

I am a realist.  I realize that despite overwhelming evidence of the negative effects of marijuana usage and a study of the social impacts in the states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana a majority of Americans support legislation to legalize marijuana use.  I also realize that means Congress will eventually pass some sort of marijuana legislation.  Those of us who are against the legalization of marijuana will have to accept that.  However I will continue to be against federal legislation leaving marijuana laws up to individual states.  This applies to both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

The FDA regulates both prescription and over the counter drugs.  How is it that legislation proposed in the Senate would leave it up to individual states to regulate medical marijuana when states do not regulate prescription or over the counter drugs?  Legislation must include a provision that medical marijuana be regulated by the FDA.

Currently under the Controlled Substances Act ((CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811) marijuana is classified as  Schedule 1 drug (the same classification as cocaine and heroin).  It seems quite a leap to leave the legislation of  recreational use of what the government currently considers a Schedule 1 drug up to individual states.  If marijuana is to be legalized I believe it must be regulated by the federal government with a consistent law across the United States.

If marijuana use in the United States is to become legalized I believe strongly it should be federal law not state law that regulates it’s use.  If you believe as I do that legalized marijuana use must be regulated by the federal government not individual states please contact your law makers and let your thoughts be heard.

If you live in New Jersey you can contact;

President Donald Trump in care of The White House 202-456-1111

U.S. Senator Cory Booker’s office: 202-224-3224

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez’s office: 202-224-4744

I am proud to live in a nation with a government for the people and by the people.  It is our obligation to be active participants in our government.  Voting for representatives that best match our beliefs is important but I believe that we should speak out when we feel strongly about an issue before the legislature.  Marijuana is an issue I feel strongly about.  If you feel as I do I hope that you will contact the White House and your Senators.