The oldest Senators still serving, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., famous for their anti-marijuana positions, were criticized for holding a hearing that presented biased witnesses and made up facts based on propaganda spouted during the Reagan administration.
Searching for Violations
The Senators, who are co-chairs of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, called the hearing to discuss how the Department Of Justice is documenting its monitoring of the guidelines set by the Obama administration in 2013. The guidelines say that each state with legalized marijuana will regulate its own marijuana industry and laws. The only thing that could incite federal interference is if 1 of 8 violations are incurred. Violations include smuggling marijuana to other states and distribution to minors. The prohibitionist group believe that with more intensive evaluation into growers and processors in Colorado and Washington, the Justice Department would be able to intervene.
“A Prohibitionist Party”
Before the hearing even began, Michael Collins, a deputy director with the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “The outcome of the hearing has been predetermined: This is going to be a prohibitionist party, not a substantive hearing. It’s a waste of time, a waste of taxpayer dollars” in response to the Drug Policy Alliance being denied the opportunity to provide a pro-legalization witness. None of the witnesses called had any experience with administering marijuana laws. There were no marijuana advocates heard. The 4 witnesses called were Justice Jennifer Grover who wrote the report criticizing the Department Of Justice, the California prosecutor who led raids on marijuana farms, Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska who tried to sue Colorado for legalizing marijuana, and Kathryn Wells who is a pediatrician on the board of Smart Approaches which is an anti-marijuana group. A more heavily biased group of witnesses could not be found. The Senators chose not to include anyone with an opposing or even unbiased view.
Anti-Marijuana Propaganda vs. Proven Facts
Completely unsubstantiated “facts” were presented at the hearing including Feinstein’s claim that marijuana use by teens between the ages of 12-17 years of age had “escalated dramatically in the states that have legalized marijuana.” In fact, according to a state health department survey, statistics show that in the 1st year recreational marijuana was legalized for adults in Colorado, the number of high school students using marijuana actually dropped slightly between 2011-2013. Annual reports from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Colorado and Washington show that legalization has made no difference to the number of teens who use marijuana. In fact, surveys across the country show teen marijuana use staying the same, regardless of legalization.
Statistics show that drug dependence is down in both states, with drug use up slightly in Colorado from 14.4 percent to 14.6 percent and down in Washington from 11.5 percent to 11.4 percent. No significant change in drug use has been registered with teens remaining the same and drug dependence down. Yet no one who was accurately informed was present to correct Feinstein when she dispensed her “facts.”
An Attempt to Justify Bias
When questioned, Jill Gerber, a spokeswoman for Grassley, said there were no pro-legalization representatives invited because the hearing was designed to focus on the Department of Justice’s policy, not state policies. She says that despite The Drug Policy Alliance wanting to have a pro-legalization witness present, they didn’t allow this because they wanted to keep the focus on the Justice Department. If this were truly the case, inaccurate information and baffling statements like “good people don’t smoke marijuana” and a reminiscing for the days of Reagan propaganda would have not been allowed at the hearing. Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association said “Grassley may be stuck in the past, but the rest of us are not. It’s time for him to do his job and hold real hearings on real legislation that could make a real difference for patients and providers across the country”.
It’s hard to argue that logic, when marijuana has been proven beyond a doubt to be far healthier than alcohol as a recreational substance. On a medical level, it’s been a miracle for those suffering with many conditions including epilepsy, cancer, A.I.D.S, depression, and PTSD. Scientific evidence shows that it has been proven, beyond a doubt, to be a massive aid and statistical evidence shows no problems stemming from its legalization. It seems time for the Senators to accept science and realize that the world is not flat and marijuana isn’t the demonized vice they claim.