By Tony Perkins
People in D.C. are still on a high after Election Day — but a handful of congressmen are hoping that high isn’t permanent. As part of the District’s ballot, voters gave the thumbs up to a marijuana proposal that just made the lame-duck session a little more interesting. Under Initiative 71, locals would have the right to both possess pot (two ounces) and grow it at home.
Oregon and Alaska passed similar policies last Tuesday, but unlike the states’, D.C.’s measure is subject to Congress’s approval. And plenty of conservatives aren’t likely to give it. Before the District even planted the policy on last week’s ballot, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) was trying to put the brakes on the push from D.C. Now, with a major funding bill on the docket, Congressman Harris might finally have a way to give the city the oversight it desperately needs.
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Together with Dr. John Fleming (R-La.), Rep. Harris is hoping his fix can hitch a ride on the House’s most important piece of lame-duck business: the omnibus. Of course, the pro-legalization crowd won’t go quietly. On the Hill, members like California’s Dana Rohrabacher are insisting that marijuana support is growing faster than cannabis plants. Republicans need to “wake up and see where the American people are” on the issue, he told reporters.
But what about where the science is? This isn’t about the freedom to ruin your own life, but the potential to harm society. As FRC explained in a special brief on the subject, there’s a high correlation between marijuana use and many social and public health harms including: drugged driving, addiction, and long term cognitive impairment. And in younger people, the health risks are even more serious. The National Institute of Health has linked marijuana use to mental illness, psychosis, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and addiction.
Forty years ago, pot supporters tried to get around these objections by suggesting that dying cancer patients could benefit from smoking marijuana, mainly to help with nausea, Dr. Fleming explains. But somehow, “without any real science,” these popular ideas “morphed into the idea that marijuana is actually a safe, natural treatment for many illnesses and is otherwise harmless and non-addictive.”
Now, Dr. Fleming points out, “23 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the medicinal use of marijuana — such that as of last year there were more medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver, Colorado than Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Areas of California were also reporting more pot dispensaries than Starbucks coffee shops.”
Even the Obama administration, for all of its radical ideologies, sides with us on marijuana, opposing it “because it flies in the face of a public health approach to reducing drug use and its consequences.” Let’s hope the President’s team gets off the sidelines and joins Rep. Fleming and Harris’s team in weeding out marijuana in D.C.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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