On Wednesday, an article published in Buzzfeed News revealed details of a task force that was ostensibly created to inform the President on marijuana policy issues that are concerning to policy experts, state-licensed businesses, and advocates. The article contains internal memos that direct federal agencies to ignore data that shows positive impacts from regulating marijuana. These memos also ask those agencies to submit data which could be interpreted negatively, as well as instances and anecdotes that could be used to discredit legal cannabis programs.
“The directives given to this committee are biased, unscientific, and fly in the face of statements made by the President during his campaign and up to the present that he supports allowing states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “This is an unfortunate example of staff within the administration exaggerating potential negatives associated with legalization while ignoring the clear benefits of regulation, and discounting the harms caused by the outdated policies of prohibition.”
In May, NCIA released a State Progress Report that details the impacts of legalizing and regulating cannabis for adults, and covers topics including public safety, teen use and availability, economic impact, and potential effects on the nation’s opioid crisis.
“We are confident that the available data, when viewed objectively, clearly shows that regulating cannabis works,” continued Smith. “By just about every measure, state programs have been widely successful at replacing prohibition with sound regulations, in spite of federal prohibition. These voter-supported programs will continue to expand, regardless of the outdated opinions some may have within the federal government.”
Last month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced a bill that would mandate a wide-reaching study on the impacts of legalization and continued prohibition at the state and federal level.
“We look forward to a study conducted by an independent federal agency that isn’t invested in continuing marijuana prohibition,” said Smith.