CEI Leads Coalition Letter Supporting MORE Act Provision To De-Schedule Cannabis

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, Leader McCarthy, and Whip Scalise:

On behalf of the many of Americans whose views and values our organizations represent, we respectfully urge you to support efforts to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. While we oppose many aspects of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, we support its provision to de-schedule cannabis, which would restore the right to decide how to regulate the substance to the people and their state representatives. The undersigned organizations agree that this action is an important step toward undoing the harms caused by the misguided drug war and protecting our nation’s principle of federalism.

In the past election, voters in five states authorized medical cannabis use, recreational use, or both. In fact, every cannabis-legalization ballot measure throughout the country was approved by voters, bringing the total number of states that have legalized medical cannabis to 35 plus the District of Columbia and the number of states that have legalized recreational cannabis use for adults to 15, along with the District. In fact, all but two states have legalized or decriminalized cannabis in some form, properly adapting state policies to reflect the needs and opinions of their constituents. Yet, such responsive governance is hampered by the fact cannabis remains federally prohibited.

Congress has recognized the need to resolve this conflict for many years. Amendments to prevent federal interference in state cannabis regulation enjoy a long history of support among both House Republicans and Democrats. These measures can give states some flexibility to set policies in accordance with the will of their people. But the dual legal status of cannabis has created confusion and put the welfare of many citizens and businesses in jeopardy.

The federal prohibition has excluded small cannabis businesses from many of the financial and legal services or benefits afforded to other industries. The conflict also creates hazards for consumers of legal cannabis products, extending to issues of employment, housing, property rights, firearms purchasing, and civil asset forfeiture, among others. For example, patients who wish to participate in their state’s legal medical marijuana program must choose between their medicine and owning a gun, because the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone who uses controlled substances from possessing guns or ammunition. Only Congress can resolve this conflict and there is strong, bipartisan public support for such action.

According to a November 2020 Gallup poll, 68 percent of all Americans believe the use of marijuana should be made legal, including 52 percent of Republican voters. There is even greater support for allowing states to make the decision without federal interference. A 2017 CBS News Poll found that 64 percent of Republican voters, 76 percent of Democrats, and 72 percent of independents opposed federal attempts to stop states from legalizing cannabis.

The undersigned organizations vary in our opinions on the specifics of cannabis legalization, but we are in strong accord when it comes to whether the federal or state governments should have the power to make such decisions. Our Constitution limits federal power and leaves most issues of law enforcement to the individual states for good reason. We are a nation of diverse backgrounds, opinions, and values. State authorities are best placed to understand the needs of their populace and must be free to decide how best to protect public health and safety and direct limited resources toward those priorities. What works for California may not be appropriate for Utah and vice versa. The federal government need not endorse one approach or another nor condone cannabis use; it needs only to respect the states’ authority to choose how best to regulate cannabis.

As a coalition of groups and individuals supporting free market solutions and the protection of essential constitutional principles, we strongly urge you to respect our nation’s federalist structure and support the MORE Act’s provision to de-schedule cannabis.

Sincerely,

Michelle Minton
Senior Fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Andrew Langer
President, Institute for Liberty

David Williams
President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Arthur Rizer
Director of Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy
R Street Institute

Top Conservatives Are Totally Confused By Marijuana Politics

MARYLAND: When pressed at an annual conference for conservative activists this week about their stances on marijuana legalization, several members of the Republican Party said that although they personally oppose legalizing the drug, they support states’ rights to do so.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Fox News’ Sean Hannity asked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) Friday if Colorado’s legalization of marijuana was a good idea.

“I thought it was a bad idea,” Bush said, “but states ought to have that right to do it. I would have voted ‘no’ if I was in Colorado.”

Stop The War On Drugs, Says Top Republican

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Ohio Republican Rob Portman, a leading figure in his party who is sometimes mentioned as a candidate for president in 2016, will call for a reevaluation of the “war on drugs” and the massive prison population it has created in a speech set for Tuesday and shared exclusively with BuzzFeed.

But Portman is also expected to warn that President Obama’s plan to use executive power to make reforms to drug sentencing could prevent larger, lasting changes from coming to pass.

“President Obama recently announced that he would grant clemency to hundreds of non-violent drug offenders,” Portman is set to say Tuesday in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. “That may be within his power, but it’s like placing a Band-Aid on a deep wound. It may cover up the problem of prison overcrowding today, but it doesn’t address the deeper problem that drives recidivism.”

Portman’s words come as crime, punishment, and drugs emerge as a rare and unlikely point on which Democrats and Republicans in Washington are finding common ground. Conservatives like Portman, troubled by the vast federal spending on jails and seeking a distinctly conservative approach to crime and poverty, have found allies in Democrats and civil libertarians who have long argued for a less punitive approach to illegal drugs.

Chairman of Iowa Republican Party: Time To Legalize Medical Marijuana

IOWA:  Today the Republican Party stands at a crossroads. Not one of taxes or war or school choice or the issues that get far more media coverage, but a crossroads of moral conscience.

For most of us, medical marijuana isn’t a matter of life and death. For most of, this issue doesn’t concern us, doesn’t affect us and most likely never will. And that’s the problem. The Republican Party has allowed the focus to be placed on freedom as an ideal instead of freedom as an asset. [Read more…]

Lisa Bowman: Conservatives Should Support Cannabis Rights

OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma Republican legislators, such as Sen. Dan Newberry of Tulsa, are rallying Republicans to support anti-cannabis legalization. They use divisive rhetoric such as calling supporters of cannabis legalization “liberals.” As a Republican myself, I am curious: When did using legislation to allow government to trump the rights of individuals become conservative? When did refusing to hear bills because of personal beliefs become conservative? When did eroding liberties by advocating for the nanny state to micromanage our lives become conservative?

The misinformed public is an ally in the prohibition cause, but that demographic is shrinking. The demographic that concerns them though is the educated and well-informed one working together despite political labels. Ending prohibition is not a liberal-conservative battle. It is a fundamental right. [Read more…]