Provisions for Big Marijuana and Monsanto left out of final Spending Bill
The Omnibus spending bill passed early this morning in Congress did not include some key provisions pushed by Big Marijuana.
It should also be noted that a Monsanto provision that would have banned states from enacting right-to-know labels for foods using GMO ingredients also did not pass. The bill was a major victory for drug prevention advocates–and for those who want less corporate influence over Congress. (Will Bernie Sanders understand? And does he understand that today’s marijuana is also genetically altered and different from the weaker pot of the ’60s?)
The bill omitted four out of six provisions heavily lobbied for by marijuana lobbyists and the cannabis industry forces.
“Despite the rhetoric, legalization is not inevitable, and it’s clear this Congress doesn’t have an appetite for it. Our hard work this session has paid off,” said Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser who now serves as President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). Provisions allowing the marijuana industry to leverage the U.S. financial and banking system. This move cuts into the marijuana industry’s ability to to harness the mass marketing of pot like the mass marketing of Big Tobacco.
A provision that would have prevented the Department of Justice from enforcing federal marijuana laws with respect to “recreational” marijuana did not pass.
Also, a provision allowing the Veterans’ Administration to recommend marijuana to treat PTSD also failed, a major victory for science. Earlier this month, Yale University researchers found that “marijuana is not associated with improvement in PTSD and that initiating marijuana was associated with worsening outcomes in a number of measures.”
The omnibus bill also includes language that prevents the District of Columbia from continuing with its legalization “experiment,” a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to address disparities in arrests and incarcerations through legalizing drug use. “The District of Columbia can resolve these very real and worrisome disparities through criminal law and sentencing reform without exposing District residents, especially children, to the addictive and harmful effects of marijuana,” commented Dr. Sabet. “And ironically, legalized marijuana is likely to harm disadvantaged communities disproportionately just as liquor stores are far more prevalent in African-American neighborhoods.”
Two riders did pass, as expected –one disallowing the Department of Justice to enforce medical marijuana laws and one allowing hemp for research purposes. Both of these also passed last year.
All of this news come on the heels of this weeks national school survey release, finding declines in use of almost every drug except marijuana. The survey also demonstrated that states that have legalized marijuana have the highest youth marijuana usage.
Six percent high school seniors use marijuana daily. That means that 1 in 17 high school seniors use marijuana daily, a near a historic high. According to statements from the American Medical Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American Psychiatric Association, marijuana use, especially among youth, should be avoided, and legalization efforts opposed.
The powerful marijuana industry lobby that has emerged is certainly not indestructible,” commented Jeffrey Zinsmeister, SAM’s Executive Vice President. “Like Big Tobacco, marijuana companies put their bottom line before public health. But common sense can still prevail.” For more information about marijuana use and its effects, see http://www.learnaboutsam.org
(Many of us who are against marijuana legalization notice the irony that anti-GMO activists often are pro-marijuana legalization. )