For Immediate Release: September 10th, 2020
Top Marijuana Researchers Condemn Upcoming House Vote on MORE Act
(Alexandria, VA) – Today, researchers from institutions such as Johns Hopkins, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Addiction Medicine, and the University of Colorado sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of House Leadership expressing their concern with the rush to vote on the MORE Act, a bill that would legalize marijuana at the federal level.
“We write with concern regarding the reported push to vote on the “MORE” Act, which would fully legalize and commercialize marijuana. This is not about decriminalization or rescheduling marijuana. This is about full, commercial legalization. We write to emphasize that there is consensus in the scientific community that such a rush to put engineered, high potency marijuana products in the commercial marketplace would put decades of public health progress in jeopardy,” said the researchers, who sit on the Scientific Advisory Board for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).
The letter lays out examples of some of the harms the current body of research has associated with marijuana commercialization including the drug’s addictive properties and its potential links to mental illness; youth marijuana use and the increased likelihood of prescription opioid misuse; the drug’s harms on brain development; and increases in marijuana-impaired driving.
The signatories also point out that while the effort to pass the MORE Act is couched as a well-intended solution to social injustices, marijuana commercialization has routinely failed to make good on any promises of social justice or equity:
“Racially biased marijuana policing and penalties for low-level possession must be reformed, but legalization and commercialization of the drug will not correct these injustices and will result in further social injustice. The marijuana industry promoting gummies, candies, and high-powered vapes and concentrates containing up to 99% THC actually exploits vulnerable populations. In Denver alone, there is one pot shop for every 43 residents of color in minority neighborhoods, worsening the achievement gap in communities of color…Legalization is not social justice—only 2% of the entire industry today has any form of minority ownership. Criminal justice reform can and must proceed. Creating a new addiction-for-profit industry will not aid or speed needed criminal justice reform. This is why decriminalization and expungements are prudent, while commercialization of the next Big Tobacco is not. Communities historically impacted by biased policing through marijuana enforcement require criminal justice reform, not billionaire-backed pot shops.”
Signers of the letter:
Hoover Adger, Jr, M.D., M.P.H.
Director, Adolescent Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Judge Arthur L. Burnett, Sr.
First Black United States Magistrate Judge
Executive Director, National African American Drug Policy Coalition
Eden Evins, M.D., M.P.H.
Cox Family Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Founding Director, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Jodi Gilman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Director for Neuroscience, Center for Addiction Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
Sion Kim Harris, Ph.D., C.P.H.
Co-Director, Center for Adolescent Behavioral Health Research
Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Marilyn A. Huestis, PhD
Institute of Emerging Health Professions, Thomas Jefferson University
Yifrah Kaminer, M.D., M.B.A.
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center
Christine Miller, Ph.D.
Former Research Associate
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Kimber P. Richter, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Director, UKanQuit
KUMed Hospital Tobacco Treatment Service
Christian Thurstone, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Colorado, Denver
Aaron Weiner, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Owner, Bridge Forward Group LLC
Kathryn Wells, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado
Media Contact: Colton Grace E: [email protected]