Tuesday, January 31, 2023

GOP’s Family Policy Agenda Blames Weed For Suicide And Violence

How can the GOP say that cannabis legalization is tied to an increase in suicide and violence when data shows the opposite is true?

Recently, the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group of 156 members of the Grand Old Party (GOP) House Caucus, released a controversial Family Policy Agenda.

Part of what’s indicated on the agenda is a discussion on marijuana legalization and how it’s tied to suicide and violence. Entitled, “Protecting Children From Dangers of Drugs,” the section discusses how marijuana is still federally illegal “but that has not stopped more and more states and localities from legalizing it under their own laws,” it reads.

What’s ironic is that the goal of this agenda paper is to “restore the American family”.  Their attempts to criticize cannabis legalization includes recommending the abolishment of cannabis edibles. “In addition, Congress should pass the Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act, introduced 3 by RSC Chairman and Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN), which would increase criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures or distributes drugs that are disguised as candy,” it reads.

Another ironic aspect is that the committee says the prohibition isn’t enough to stop kids from consuming cannabis. It indicates unfounded lies: “This has led to an explosion of marijuana use among children, which is having a hugely negative impact on their health,” the report reads.

Based on the agenda, what the GOP really wants is for criminal penalties for marijuana as well as other Schedule 1 substances that come in the form of candy or drinks to be increased. It’s ludicrous that they think these items are being sold to minors! Of course, these aren’t true, but it’s no secret that GOP lawmakers are still against marijuana legalization.

cannabis legalization
Photo by Bet_Noire/Getty Images

GOP Still Against Cannabis Legalization

In April earlier this year, the House passed a law that seeks to decriminalize marijuana federally. This has been a long time coming, though the bill has met numerous bumps on the road. More than 200 House Republicans opposed the legislation, and just three of them supported it. When you look at the other side, over 200 House Democrats backed it up and just two voted against the bill. This pretty much ensured the death of the bill in Senate.

The GOP still chooses to go against the tide as most Americans are already in favor of marijuana legalization. In fact, many voters also support cannabis for recreational use.

There are many theories why there is still such a strong opposition from Republicans when it comes to marijuana legalization — as well as many other pressing issues. A quick look at congressional Republicans will show that most of them are religious and significantly older. These groups of people are not progressive when it comes to drug reform and the benefits of marijuana, which is why they are so conservative about it as well as other matters of family and morality.

In addition, many of the Republicans are not aware of how fellow Republicans’ opinions have evolved through the years. It isn’t far-fetched for many Reps to go against federal legalization of marijuana simply because they think they are doing right in representing their voters’ opinions.

In fact, a recent national poll conducted by the National Cannabis Roundtable revealed that more than three quarters of self-identified Republicans believe that recreational or medical legalization that has been supported by voters shouldn’t be opposed. They believe that the government instead should be focusing their efforts on getting rid of hurdles for these markets. Furthermore, 17% of respondents don’t think the federal government should be completely hands-off when it comes to state-legal markets.

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According to former Colorado Sec. Cory Gardener, a Republican and a new board member of the National Cannabis Roundtable, “there’s been a massive shift in opinion, and it’s evidently clear that Republicans have extremely positive attitudes toward legal cannabis.”

A recent Gallup poll echoes the same sentiments, with results demonstrating that 50% of Republicans back legalization while 49% did not. “Twenty years ago, you couldn’t get a majority of Republicans that supported medical cannabis. Now, it’s overwhelmingly supportive,” explains Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates to Politico.com.

legal marijuana
Photo by Dmitriy83/Getty Images

Look at the Numbers

All one has to do is simply look up the data.

How can the GOP say that cannabis legalization is tied to an increase in suicide and violence when data shows the opposite is true? Cannabis helps mental health, thus decreasing suicide and violence rates where it’s legal.

In a 2021 study analyzing results of a 2013 investigation which found no association between medical marijuana legalization and mental health, researchers confirmed: “We found that recreational marijuana access was associated with a 6.29% reduction in suicide rates for males aged 40 to 49, but no other mental health outcomes were otherwise affected by liberalization of marijuana laws,” the authors wrote.

“Adverse mental health outcomes do not follow cannabis liberalization at the state level, confirming the findings,” they add. “In addition, there is evidence that recreational marijuana reduces suicide rates for middle-aged males” — and this is just one study out of many.

Meanwhile, other studies show that cannabis legalization benefits the criminal justice system by reducing violent crime. In one study among several, researchers found that legal medical cannabis isn’t an indicator of increased crime rates. Dr. Robert Morris, lead author of the study and an associate professor of criminology, stated that cannabis may in fact lead to reductions in certain kinds of crime.

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“We’re cautious about saying, ‘Medical marijuana laws definitely reduce homicide.’ That’s not what we’re saying,” he explained. “The main finding is that we found no increase in crime rates resulting from medical marijuana legalization. In fact, we found some evidence of decreasing rates of some type of violent crime, namely homicide and assault,” he said.

Conclusion

We hope the GOP opens their eyes and gets a good reality check. With their support, one day, we hope the federal legalization of cannabis will finally happen as recent announcements by President Biden seem to be pointing that direction.

This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.

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