Amid a flurry of federal legislation that would advance cannabis reform in the U.S., the Marijuana Data Collection Act stands out as one bill that would directly address the narrative and national mythos of cannabis. In an era of greater political obfuscation—and in a subject area fraught with decades of misconceptions and anti-marijuana propaganda—the bill is seen as a vital step in the path toward federal legalization.
In a Buzzfeed News story published Aug. 29, reporter Dominic Holden revealed that the Trump administration “has secretly amassed a committee of federal agencies from across the government to combat public support for marijuana and cast state legalization measures in a negative light, while attempting to portray the drug as a national threat.”
The news immediately drew vocal backlash from industry stakeholders.
“These are the death rattles of marijuana prohibition,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a public statement. “Those who seek to maintain the oppressive policies of cannabis criminalization are grasping at straws in their effort to undo the public policy progresses that have now been enacted in a majority of states, and that are widely supported by voters of both major political parties.”
In April, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced that he’d reached an apparent deal with Trump to protect states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis markets, referencing what would eventually become the STATES ACT.
Trump, however, has never made his position on cannabis reform entirely clear. He has yet to specifically promote any federal legalization efforts in a public forum, although he did indicate in June that he “probably will end up supporting” the STATES Act.
Holden’s report, in fact, signals the exact opposite sentiment from the White House and what’s being called the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee. According to Holden:
“The prevailing marijuana narrative in the U.S. is partial, one-sided, and inaccurate,” says a summary of a July 27 meeting of the White House and nine departments. In a follow-up memo, which provided guidance for responses from federal agencies, White House officials told department officials, “Departments should provide … the most significant data demonstrating negative trends, with a statement describing the implications of such trends.”
The Marijuana Data Collection Act would counteract an executive-branch measure like the Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), has thus far picked up 27 co-sponsors.
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