BuzzFeed first reported the existence of the secret anti-marijuana committee in late August, noting that the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee requested 14 different federal agencies to submit negative data regarding marijuana and its potential threat to the nation.
Questions about the existence of the marijuana committee were evaded by several agencies at the time, but the Office of National Drug Control Policy admitted to the existence of the marijuana committee in writing to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) on Sept.21.
Justin Strekal is the Political Director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and believes that the marijuana committee was designed with the aim of recriminalizing marijuana, according to Forbes. Marijuana is now legal in Washington D.C. and 30 states.
Bennett wrote a letter accusing the marijuana committee of purposely trying to falsely influence the public with cherry-picked negative data for political gain. The Office of National Drug Control Policy wrote back to the senator acknowledging the existence of the committee and promising that the marijuana committee was objective and seeking both positive and negative data.
However, it would seem that being objective is not the marijuana committee's main concern as one agency memo referenced rising marijuana consumption as a positive trend which should be reversed.
Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy James Carroll wrote the letter to Sen. Bennett and promised to seek all relevant information and scientific facts on marijuana. "You have my full and firm commitment that ONDCP will be completely objective," he wrote, adding that the ONDCP supports more scientific research on the drug.
Despite Carroll's written affirmation, the committee's memo's specifically requested information on the most significant negative trends regarding marijuana from each of the 14 agencies. Neither Carroll nor the White House has named who created the marijuana committee, and its existence was never announced publicly.
Bennet expects Carroll and the White House to keep their promise and reiterated that negative government propaganda should not be tolerated. "In Colorado, we've made a deliberate effort to ensure fact-based data informs our marijuana policies," he said. "I intend to hold the ONDCP to its commitment to present objective and scientific information about marijuana to the American public."
The White House had no comment.