The passing of a bill to legalize marijuana nationwide would see a rise in addiction dependency, homelessness, and youth addiction, as seen in states that have legalized the substance, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) stated in an April 2 interview with NTD’s Capitol Report.
With the challenges the United States is currently facing, including “the rise in violent crime” as well as fentanyl being illegally trafficked across the Southern border resulting in “100,000 Americans dying of overdoses last year,” Good said that “the last thing we need is more people using addictive behavior-altering recreational drugs.”
The “addictive, mind-altering component” of marijuana has already led to “addiction dependency [and] homelessness” in states that have legalized the drug.
The bill also doesn’t stop vendors from selling marijuana products to children through candy-like edibles or vape-flavored products, Good added.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in May 2021 (pdf). The bill passed the House in a 220-204, with Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Tom McClintock ( R-Calif.), and Brian Mast (R-Ill.) joining all but two Democrats to vote for the measure on April 1.
The bill would make it no longer a violation of federal law to possess marijuana and would allow those who have used marijuana to gain security clearance, permit the Veterans’ Administration to prescribe cannabis for medical and mental health reasons, and would allow the federal government to place a 5 percent sales tax on sales of marijuana.
The sales tax collected on marijuana products will be reinvested into programs that help “marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs,” according to a May 2021 statement released from the office of Nadler.
That means former criminals who were prosecuted for their involvement in the drug trade will be prioritized to profit off the new legalization of marijuana to develop their own “legal marijuana operation” with the help of federal government resources and funds, said Good.
While critics have argued that the sales tax on marijuana sales would generate tax revenue for states, Good said “it’s terrible for the government to try to profit off its citizens using a product that is harmful for them.”
He added that law enforcement officials “will tell you that the criminals and the drug cartels will put their efforts into harder drugs and more dangerous drugs when they lose the profit incentive or the profit opportunity with marijuana.”
A year following the legalization of marijuana, Colorado reportedly saw an 8 percent rise in homelessness, to which then-Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed reinvesting tax revenues from marijuana sales into homelessness programs, according to statements obtained by The Guardian.
“There’s no question that marijuana and other drugs—in combination with mental illness or other disabling conditions—are essential contributors to chronic homelessness,” Hickenlooper stated according to the Guardian’s 2017 report.
Meanwhile Democrats have argued that the criminalization of cannabis products are “racist and discriminatory,” according to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-N.Y.) said that criminal records for marijuana possession “can haunt people of color and impact the trajectory of their lives and career indefinitely.”
“It can result in difficulty finding employment, difficulty finding housing, denial of access of federal benefits, denial of financial aid at colleges and universities, and denial of the right to vote,” Hoyer said. “That’s why we’re dealing with this.”
Joseph Lord contributed to this report.