Washington, D.C., December 3, 2020 – The Kennedy Forum strongly opposes the passage of the MORE Act, which would legalize marijuana in the U.S. Removing cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) will inevitably lead to increased usage. Unlike alcohol and tobacco, which have been waning among youth, marijuana is going in the wrong direction—with potentially alarming consequences.
Marijuana has been proven to exacerbate mental illness and some researchers are even finding casual connections between high potency THC and psychosis and schizophrenia. At a time when people everywhere are struggling—mental health and addiction challenges are increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic—this is the wrong move for our country. We must put public health before the profits of a growing industry. And make no mistake, it is an industry.
As former U.S. Rep. and founder of The Kennedy Forum Patrick J. Kennedy has stated, “The entities who stand to gain tens of billions of dollars from the legal sale of marijuana are masters at using sophisticated techniques to produce, package, brand, market, and up-sell consumer goods.”
The products they have traditionally marketed to the public are naturally habit forming—and today’s marijuana, with its increased THC concentration, is no different. No matter how “homegrown” the marijuana movement looks from the outside, no one should be fooled. There’s a reason why marijuana product offerings have multiplied and diversified over the past decade to include highly potent, albeit innocuous-looking, candies and soft drinks with catchy names. Reaching more—and younger—consumers is key to growth. And marijuana retailers are more likely to be in neighborhoods with higher proportions of Black and Hispanic residents and residents living in poverty.
Like the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), we believe that public health should drive cannabis policy and that we must end our country’s traditionally punitive approach. We stand ready to work with Congressional leaders to pass federal legislation that would strike a more appropriate balance—one that prioritizes public health. This would entail preventing the dangerous commercialization of marijuana, while also removing criminal penalties for low-level marijuana use—in addition to not burdening individuals with non-violent drug offenses with criminal records.
We strongly urge members of the House to vote NO on the MORE Act.
About The Kennedy Forum
Founded in 2013 by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Kennedy Forum leads a national dialogue on transforming the health care system by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and government agencies around a common set of principles, including full implementation of the Federal Parity Law. Launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, the nonprofit aims to achieve health equity by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the treatment of mental health and addiction. The Kennedy Forum’s “Don’t Deny Me” campaign educates consumers about their rights under the Federal Parity Law and connects them with essential appeals guidance and resources. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum and donate, please visit www.thekennedyforum.org.