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Put our kids first, Mr. Holder, and enforce federal law against marijuana

Anyone who is cultivating, selling, or distributing marijuana is violating the federal Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Obama must enforce federal law and begin prosecutions to stop the proliferation of 'medical' and recreational marijuana that is harming our kids.

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A medical marijuana plant is shown at a dispensary in Seattle in November last year.

Ted S. Warren/AP/File

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An open letter

To: Hon. Eric Holder, US Attorney General

and Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration

From: David G. Evans, Executive Director of the Drug Free Schools Coalition

Dear Mr. Holder and Ms. Leonhart:

Parents across America are waiting for you to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act in the states of Colorado and Washington, which have legalized recreational marijuana, as well as in the 19 states where “medical” marijuana is legal. These laws were passed as the result of a well-funded lobbying campaign by the marijuana industry. The public has been misled by this campaign to see marijuana as harmless, natural, and medicinal, just as we were misled years ago by the tobacco industry, which claimed that tobacco was not addictive and that smoking had no ill effects.

Anyone who is in the business of cultivating, selling, or distributing marijuana, including “medical” marijuana, is in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which preempts state law. You must enforce federal law and begin prosecutions to stop the proliferation of “medical” marijuana stores and widespread recreational use of marijuana. I also urge you and President Obama to use the “bully pulpit” to make parents aware of the dangers of these pro-marijuana laws to our kids.

The damage of marijuana – and these laws – is clear. Legalization of marijuana for “medical” use and recreational use in those states has resulted in more marijuana use, particularly among young people, which can permanently impair brain development. Teens who use marijuana are more likely to engage in delinquent and dangerous behavior and experience increased risk of schizophrenia and depression. Despite arguments by the drug culture to the contrary, multiple studies show that marijuana is addictive. Marijuana is the number one drug causing young people to enter treatment and there has been a substantial increase in the people in treatment for marijuana dependence.

Marijuana use also damages the American economy. Employees who test positive for marijuana had 55 percent more industrial accidents and 85 percent more injuries, and they had absenteeism rates 75 percent higher than those who tested negative.                                                           

Medical marijuana

Science and experience say that passing “medical” marijuana legislation is bad medicine and poor policy. A past evaluation by several federal Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, concluded that “no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.”

A major study, “Early Findings in Controlled Studies of Herbal Cannabis: A Review,” concluded that despite the widespread public interest in the therapeutic potential of herbal cannabis, “the data alone fails to make the case that crude, smoked cannabis should be made available to patients.” Numerous other studies have replicated those findings.

If marijuana is going to be considered a medicine, it should be treated as such and be subject to the Food and Drug Administration approval process that includes clinical trials to determine its efficacy as a medication.

Who is really using “medical” marijuana?

“Medical” marijuana is generally a ruse for recreational use of marijuana. Let's look at two states with medical marijuana dispensaries – Colorado and California. Who is really getting “medical” marijuana in Colorado? As of December 31, 2012, there were 108,526 people getting “medical” marijuana. Of those, 94 percent are treating “pain,” and 16 percent are treating “muscle spasms.” These are very subjective determinations. Very few are getting it for serious conditions such as cancer (3 percent), glaucoma (1 percent), and HIV/AIDS (1 percent). The average age of cardholders is 41, and 68 percent are male; 37 “patients” are under the age of 18.

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