Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a bill to legalize marijuana this week. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is being advertised as a simple bill- one that loosens federal regulation of the Schedule I controlled substance. The nearly 300-page bill tells a different story and one that ignores the dangerous impacts of legalization.
Marijuana proponents seem to believe that a good trade-off for legalization is high taxation of the crop. Sen. Schumer’s marijuana bill implements a tax schedule that eventually reaches 25 percent of each cannabis product. However, states that have implemented this policy have seen an increase of illegal use instead of the income they expected. After six years of California’s action to legalize recreational marijuana and impose high taxes, up to three quarters of current sales are from unregistered dealers. Even Oregon’s marijuana market is made up of 70% of illegal sales. Legal dealers simply cannot compete with the black market.
A section of the bill outlines the “findings” or reasons behind the creation of the legislation. The entire list is based on race. For instance, how the black community has seen higher convictions of marijuana distribution or use and how most weed shops owners are white. It does not mention the how cannabis use is dangerous for all individuals. Studies have shown that marijuana is linked to several mental illnesses such as depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Users are 25% more likely to be hospitalized due to respiratory illnesses. Not to mention, using marijuana leads to harder drugs such as opioids, heroin, and cocaine.
Since the bill would dramatically impact federal criminal laws on marijuana, Sen. Schumer wants to go a step further by retroactively expunging previous crimes. Every marijuana conviction since 1971 will be reviewed by Federal Courts to eventually have it expunged or adjudicated. Additionally, all individuals will be immune to penalties related to perjury for failure to disclose an arrest due to marijuana charges.
The blowbacks will not stop there. Sen. Schumer’s bill includes “fair access to financial services” meaning banks cannot stop you from making legal marijuana transactions through their institution. While the bill does not explicitly include language from the SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1996) which allows banks to fund marijuana dispensaries, the text is clear that the federal government will not interfere with legal marijuana transactions.
We can’t help but notice the irony of the Biden administration cracking down on tobacco products while propping up the marijuana industry. The Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and National Institutes of Health have proposed bans on Juul vape products and menthol cigarettes as well as reducing the nicotine in cigarettes. The White House has cited concerns over appeal to children, cancer risks, and addiction. These are the same issues we have with marijuana legalization.
Additionally, the White House fired two employees last year for admitting to marijuana use on security clearance documents. This completely contradicted the Biden administration’s goals of decriminalizing weed. If this bill were to be signed into law, such firings would not exist because federal employers would be forced to label marijuana use as “legal.”
Eagle Forum has signed on to a coalition letter drafted by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) to oppose the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act and will score against the bill. To learn more about the harmful effects of marijuana use, visit our website here.