News Roundup – October 2019
Here is a brief rundown of marijuana news as well as an update on what we have been up to over the last month.
In Wake of Recent Vaping Crisis, Trump Administration Must Enact National Moratorium on THC Vape Products
In response to a growing national crisis over the tragic deaths and hospitalizations of hundreds of people from lung infections associated with marijuana vaping products, SAM President Dr. Kevin Sabet, called on the Trump Administration, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enact an immediate, national moratorium on the sale of all THC vape products.
“We are calling on the Trump Administration and the new HHS advisory committee to recognize that THC vaping poses a significant threat to public health and include these dangerous products in their forthcoming recommendations. The sale of THC vaping oils and other products must be halted before more Americans are put at risk,” stated Dr. Sabet.
Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control urged Americans to “refrain from the use of vaping products, particularly those containing THC.” This marks the first time the agency has explicitly warned against the use of all THC vaping products.
SAM staff have put together a comprehensive list of facts and talking points for you to be able to discuss the marijuana vaping crisis with your family, friends, and colleagues. If you share anything on social media, please be sure to use the hashtag “#PotVapingCrisis” in order to raise awareness that the marijuana industry is to blame.
During a Marijuana Vaping Crisis, the U.S. House Puts Big Marijuana’s Demands Above the Interest of Public Health and Safety New Study: Opioid Deaths Rising in “Legal” States
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the SAFE Banking Act, a bill to grant the marijuana industry access to the federal banking system. Notably, the bill passes the House while the nation is in the grips of a health crisis, with at least two of eight deaths and hundreds of cases of illness linked to marijuana vaping devices.
In response to the bill’s passage in the House, SAM is calling on the U.S. Senate to protect public health and safety in the face of this crisis by blocking this addiction-for-profit legislation.
“This is a gift to Big Tobacco, which has already invested billions into pot. Granting this industry access to banks will bring billions of dollars of institutional investment from the titans of addiction and vastly expand the harms we are already witnessing,” said Dr. Sabet.
“Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other leaders in the Senate should see through this scam and stand up for public health. As it stands, Senators Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker have all stated opposition to the bill. They know passing the SAFE Banking Act will do nothing but aid Big Marijuana in harming disadvantaged communities.”
A study by researchers in Oregon and California added to the foundation of data countering efforts by the marijuana industry and its promoters to paint marijuana legalization as a solution to the opioid epidemic.
The study used opioid mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to compare trends in opioid death rates in states “legalizing” marijuana in both “recreational” and “medicinal” uses. In total, the study found 78% of “legal” states experienced significantly higher rates of opioid-related deaths after legalization than states that have not legalized the drug.
“With each day, more data comes to light proving that expanding access and use of marijuana is a net negative in terms of public health and safety,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Lawmakers are running far ahead of the science. The body of evidence on this subject builds a solid case that marijuana legalization has a negative impact on opioid abuse.”
SAM Unveils Latest Data on Marijuana Industry Donations
SAM released a thoroughly renovated database with the most up-to-date information available on political contributions made by the marijuana industry to federal elected officials.
The database now includes donations from K Street lobbying firms that work for the marijuana industry, like Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (for the Cannabis Trade Federation) and Squire Patton Boggs (for John Boehner’s National Cannabis Roundtable).
“The flow of political donations from the marijuana industry to elected officials has grown exponentially over the last few years as massive investment from the titans of addiction has increased,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet. “Big Marijuana is dutifully following the playbook of Big Tobacco and part of that strategy was greasing the wheels on public policy with donations. Another key aspect was keeping those donations under the radar, we aren’t going to let that happen.”
This initiative seeks to expose elected officials who pocket money from the marijuana industry and then support policies that would benefit the pot profiteers, such as granting the industry investor access or tying the hands of the FDA from being able to have even basic oversight of the industry.
SAM Urges Caution on 2020 Marijuana Policy New Colorado Report Shows Marijuana Harms Continue to Mount
SAM President Dr. Kevin Sabet recent joined “Cheddar,” the largest “post-cable” news media organization, to discuss the various stances on marijuana policy held by 2020 presidential candidates.
“When people say they support marijuana legalization, or even vote for it, if you dig deeper you find out what they actually prefer is decriminalization, not commercialization. They don’t want to see pot shops in their back yards and they especially don’t want to see the rise of these new, dangerous products such as pot vapes.”
Additionally, Dr. Sabet addressed the root cause of the ongoing vaping crisis saying that “the majority of the problems we are seeing are from marijuana vapes, some of which were legally obtained.”
A new Colorado report compiled by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area finds marijuana-positive traffic fatalities, hospitalizations, marijuana use, and illegal market activity have exploded since marijuana legalization.
“This report, coming on the heels of the Surgeon General’s health advisory on marijuana and in the midst of a marijuana vaping crisis, piles on to the broad array of data we have indicating marijuana legalization is having a net-negative impact in states that have chosen to legalize the drug,” said Dr. Sabet. “The time has come to put public health and safety over the demands of this harmful industry.”
According to the report, marijuana-impaired driving is having a catastrophic impact on the state, marijuana usage rates also continue to soar, and the black market is in full swing.
New Hampshire Coalition Urges Congressional Delegation to Oppose Marijuana Banking Access During Health Crisis
Members of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New Hampshire (SAM NH) an affiliate of SAM Action, joined New Hampshire State Senator Bob Giuda, Emergency Room Physician Dr. David Strang, and Lebanon, New Hampshire Police Chief Richard Mello in urging Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, as well as Representatives Ann Kuster and Chris Pappas, to oppose efforts to extend banking access to the marijuana industry in the midst of the pot vaping crisis and the opioid epidemic.
“As a medical doctor, I am extremely concerned about the potential unintended consequences associated with passing the SAFE Banking Act,” said Dr. David Strang, an Emergency Medicine Specialist and Chairman of the New Hampshire Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Advisory Council. “Sound scientific evidence, not financial urgency, should guide both federal and state marijuana policies. As it stands, the scientific evidence does not favor rewarding this industry with banking access and institutional investment.”
The press conference featured a letter to the New Hampshire Congressional delegation that highlights a recent push by former Directors of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and former Administrators of the Drug Enforcement Administration to educate lawmakers as to their concerns with allowing the marijuana industry banking access. Chief among these concerns is that banking access would be a boon for cartels and other criminal organizations seeking to launder money through the industry.
Additionally, the letter outlines the health harms of high potency marijuana, such as being mass-produced by the marijuana industry, and explains the culprit behind the ongoing fatal vaping crisis seems to be the use of marijuana vapes.
SAM Op-Ed Corner
“Given the vaping crisis, N.J. should not legalize marijuana, an ex-presidential adviser says”
Opinion: Should Pennsylvania legalize recreational marijuana?
Billboards and Other Large Advertisements
Interested in really making a splash on the marijuana issue? Use our artwork on a billboard, bus ad, building-sized poster, or other installation that is sure to draw public attention, and maybe even media coverage! We have successfully used billboards such as the one above to drive media and policymakers’ attention to the harms of marijuana legalization and you can, too!
Contact us at [email protected] to jump-start your marijuana awareness work.
SAVE THE DATE!
2020 SAM SUMMIT CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS
Registration is now open for the The 2020 SAM Summit taking place in Nashville, TN alongside the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. This is the perfect option for interested and concerned parties to learn more about what the current research says about the negative effects of marijuana normalization on public health and safety.
We’re looking for dynamic presenters for our annual summit. Ever want to give a TED talk on some aspect of marijuana policy? If you said yes, then read on!
SAM is seeking proposals that focus on the following topics:
• Prevention strategies
• Treatment and recovery
• Social justice
• Link between marijuana and opioids/other drugs.
• Workplace and employers, and impact on employee productivity
• Impacts on youth and young adults
PLEASE NOTE: All submissions are to be completed by Friday, November 1, 2019.
Submit proposals to Brendan Fairfield: [email protected]
MARIJUANA: PREVENTING ANOTHER BIG TOBACCO MEDIA CAMPAIGN TOOLKIT NOW AVAILABLE
Big Marijuana is borrowing the playbook of Big Tobacco in search of the same deep profits at the expense of addicted users. It is time to combat their game with the facts! To help you do so, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) has partnered with Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth (CADY) to offer a comprehensive media campaign prevention toolkit.
As always, thank you for being a SAM supporter. If you can, please chip-in with a small donation by clicking here.
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All the best,
Colton Grace – Communications Associate
Smart Approaches to Marijuana
Official SAM Website: Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) | [email protected] | 400 N. Columbus St., Suite 202
Alexandria, VA 22314