Anti-drug Senators criticized for biased Marijuana hearing

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on April 07, 2016.

The hearing on marijuana legalization in senate on Tuesday was biased and dishonest, focusing mostly on debunked claims that marijuana use leads to substances like heroin and cocaine, drug policy groups said.  Only anti-pot activists and those opposed to legalization were invited to testify.

Drug Policy Alliance deputy director Michael Collins said, “An honest evaluation of marijuana legalization would include the undeniable benefits of legalization, like the massive drop in marijuana arrests, the billions in taxes, and the transition from an underground market to a regulated one.”

Republican Chuck Grassley and Democratic Dianne Feinstein, two senior most senators, held a hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control titled --“Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?”

The hearing was held to determine whether the Justice Department is neglecting its duty to enforce federal marijuana laws.

Grassley and Feinstein, two anti-drug crusaders of Senate, cited a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that criticized Department of justice for inadequately monitoring the effects of state marijuana policies.

The senators pointed out that the enforcement guidelines were contained in a memo allowing for the first state-regulated recreational pot markets in Colorado and Washington, despite marijuana possession remaining a federal crime. There are eight enforcement triggers in the guidelines that could prompt federal intervention, including the distribution of marijuana to minors, negative health consequences or the smuggling of marijuana across state lines.

The four witnesses who testified at the hearing showed little diversity in their viewpoints: GAO’s director for Homeland Security and Justice Jennifer Grover, California prosecutor Benjamin B. Wagner, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson and Denver-based pediatrician Kathryn Wells, who sits on the board of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group opposed to legalization.

In the Tuesday hearing, no one spoke in favor of reforming marijuana laws. Pro-legalization groups chided Grassley for not holding hearings on Senate legislation that would legalize marijuana for medical use and re-schedule the substance as a less dangerous drug.

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