WASHINGTON – BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday that Trump has secretly convened an anti-cannabis committee.
The anti-cannabis committee was created to reverse the growing public acceptance of marijuana. Washington D.C and 30 states have already legalized medical marijuana because of the drug's health benefits, and the state of New York has just added opioid addiction as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.
However, the Trump administration aims to label marijuana as a threat to national security. White House emails and memos have directed the anti-cannabis committee, called the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, to provide data that shows the most negative attributes of legal marijuana.
"There is an urgent need to message the facts about the negative impacts of marijuana use, production, and trafficking on national health, safety, and security," said one documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. The anti-pot committee consists of the Drug Enforcement Administration and 14 other federal agencies.
Opioids Are the Real National Security Threat
The real threat to national security is the opioid crisis. More than 72,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017, and nearly 30,000 of those deaths are attributed to the prescription painkiller fentanyl. No one has ever died from an overdose of weed.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that states with legal medical marijuana had more than 3 million fewer opioid prescriptions written annually and 25 percent fewer deaths from opioid overdoses than states with no medical marijuana.
It would appear as though the Trump administration only wants negative statistics from the committee as none of the documents state that the administration is seeking any positive data about marijuana. The committee was instructed to compile a two-page fact sheet with bullet points that provide information as to how marijuana is a threat.
The Trump administration also revoked an Obama Era policy in January that restricted federal interference in states with legal weed, prompting a bipartisan bill called the STATES Act to be created. The bill was designed to protect legal marijuana states from federal interference and was introduced in June by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA.).
Alex Siciliano spoke on behalf of Sen. Gardner upon learning about the anti-pot committee, telling The Hill that the senator is still confident that Trump will keep his word regarding federal interference in legal marijuana states.
"Regardless of the accuracy of the story, Senator Gardner remains confident in the commitment the President made to him to support a states' rights solution to the current disconnect on marijuana law," he said.
Gardner was upset when the Obama policy was revoked and immediately blocked 11 Department of Justice nominee confirmations of as a result. He later ended the blockade of a few nominees after meeting with the Department of Justice as a compromise but Gardner did not concede confirmations for all nominates.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO.) disagrees that Trump will keep his word. Bennet wrote a letter to the Office of National Drug Control Policy which said that Trump can't be trusted. Bennet writes that the Trump administration has "eroded any credibility" that it had regarding the issue.
"At a time when we should be investing in objective and peer-reviewed scientific research on marijuana and the effects of legalization, the White House is instead using taxpayer money to spread a politically-driven narrative," wrote the senator.
The anti-cannabis committee comes at a time when other politicians are calling for more scientific research on marijuana. The Marijuana Data Collection Act was introduced in July and would require bi-annual reports from the National Academy of Sciences detailing the full impact of marijuana legalization.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) is a cosponsor of the bill and says that the lack of scientific research leads to misinformation. "We need data-driven, verified information about the impacts of cannabis in order to be fully informed and legislate appropriately on this issue."
One of the memos stated that the positive information reported about marijuana is biased and one-sided. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the 14 federal agencies had no comment.