Today we attended a luncheon with Rep. Lamar Smith, hosted by the Republican Club of Austin at Green Pastures Restaurant in central Austin, along with several other activists who would like to see HR 2306 move forward in the House Judiciary Committee.
The luncheon was semi-formal, and $25/person for those who aren’t a member of the Republican Club of Austin.
After lunch was served, and Rep. Smith spoke, there was a question and answer session and thankfully one of those in our group, Kris Bailey, was lucky enough to be called on for the final question.
Kris, identifying himself as a hard-core small government individual, noted that there has been news that Rep. Smith is holding back debate and a committee vote on HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.
Rep. Smith responded by insinuating that he is not holding back the debate, but that he is opposed to such a bill “because the FDA has not approved marijuana”, and “it would increase drug cartels business”, and “it would increase addiction.”
Of course, we were well prepared to dispel the incorrect assumptions of Rep. Smith, by noting that Marinol and Casemet, synthetic THC (the active ingredient in Cannabis), is legal and prescribed in all 50 states. And, in fact on April 1st 2004, Dr. Robert Meyer, Director of the Office of Drug Evaluation II at the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) submitted a Statement to the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources and the House Committee on Government Reform calling for Marijuana to be moved from a Schedule One substance, with no medical uses, to a Schedule 2 or 3 substance which are approved for medical use.
They end their statement saying:
“FDA will continue to be receptive to sound, scientifically based research into the medicinal uses of botanical marijuana and other cannabinoids. FDA will continue to facilitate the work of manufacturers interested in bringing to the market safe and effective products.”
Also, when supporters of marijuana prohibition (like Rep. Smith) point out that admissions to drug treatment for marijuana have skyrocketed, they fail to point out that the Federal Government’s own Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 58% of those marijuana treatment admissions were referrals from the criminal justice system, meaning that statistic is a direct result of the explosion of marijuana related arrests.
And, finally, it goes without saying that legalizing marijuana in the United States, (the largest importer of illegal marijuana from Mexico), could potentially eliminate nearly half of the Mexican drug cartels’ illicit drug profits; who in their right mind would still purchase illegal, poor quality, Mexican marijuana when it’s perfectly legal to grow your own or get some from your friends/family who do?
We were also able to speak directly to Rep. Smith, and his senior staff, regarding these issues, as well as leave them with copies of NORML’s “Emerging Clinical Applications” handbook.
We hope that after consideration of the factual information we provided, that Rep. Smith will decide to at least allow a fair debate and vote of HR 2306 in the House Judiciary Committee.
If he does not, we hope that those of you who live in his district will keep that in mind during the next election cycle.
Thank you for your continued support, and if you would like to help insure that Texas NORML can keep this kind of outreach sustained, please take a few minutes to either become a member, or donate to our organization: