[Congressional Record Volume 160, Number 36 (Tuesday, March 4, 2014)]
[Senate]
[Pages S1274-S1276]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, the legalization of marijuana is an 
issue that has generated significant media attention in recent months. 
Last year Colorado and Washington State became the first jurisdictions 
in the world to legalize the production, trafficking, possession and 
use of marijuana for recreational purposes. The consequences of 
legalization are only beginning to be understood. But one thing is 
clear. Legalizing marijuana does not make it any safer. Marijuana 
remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. 
According to that designation, it is a substance that presents ``a high 
potential for abuse.''
  Colorado's previous experience legalizing medical marijuana suggests 
that the consequences of full-on legalization could be dire for public 
health and safety. From 2006 to 2010, the number of Colorado drivers 
involved in fatal car crashes who tested positive for marijuana 
doubled. The number of Colorado students who have been suspended or 
expelled for marijuana use has increased considerably. Nearly three-
quarters of Denver teenagers in drug treatment reported obtaining 
marijuana from a ``medical marijuana'' user. Colorado has become a 
source State for the distribution of marijuana throughout the United 
States. Law enforcement in my home State of Iowa reports that the 
percentage of marijuana interdicted there that originated from Colorado 
has increased from 10 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2012.
  Against this backdrop, the Obama administration has recently sent 
mixed signals, especially to young people, about the dangers of 
marijuana use. President Obama recently stated that in his view, 
marijuana use was no worse than drinking alcohol. The Department of 
Justice declined to challenge State laws that have legalized marijuana, 
despite the obvious conflict with Federal law. Additionally, the 
Department issued guidance to prosecutors concerning the enforcement of 
the Controlled Substances Act and Federal money laundering laws that is 
plainly intended to permit marijuana businesses in these States to grow 
and flourish. These actions have caused confusion and uncertainty about 
whether using marijuana is really something that should be discouraged 
because it is harmful.
  However, many community anti-drug coalitions, healthcare 
professionals, public health officials, and law enforcement groups are 
speaking out about the dangers of marijuana use. One such group, Smart 
Approaches to Marijuana--or Project SAM for short--has recently begun 
to confront the marijuana legalization movement head-on.
  One of Project SAM's cofounders, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, 
has been outspoken in his efforts to fight the marijuana legalization 
movement. He has appeared on numerous television and radio shows, 
including ones where audiences may disagree with his views against 
legalization. He has bared his own struggles with addiction, offering 
himself up as a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming addicted 
to marijuana and other substances. And he has broken with many in his 
party by speaking out against the President's permissive attitude 
toward marijuana use and the Obama administration's failure to enforce 
the Controlled Substances Act. Indeed, all former DEA Administrators, 
appointed by Republican and Democratic presidents alike, have joined 
with Project SAM and others to

[[Page S1275]]

oppose the Obama administration's policies in this area.
  According to a recent article from NBCnews.com, an article I ask 
unanimous consent to have printed in the Record, Project SAM recently 
launched a serious counter-offensive to the marijuana legalization 
movement. The organization began by placing a billboard near the Super 
Bowl stating that ``Marijuana kills your drive.'' Project SAM launched 
a website dedicated to tracking public health incidents linked to 
marijuana use in Colorado and Washington to highlight the consequences 
of legalization in those States. It is also launching websites that 
will allow current or former marijuana users to share their stories 
about how marijuana has damaged their lives.
  Project SAM has also been active in my home State of Iowa. The 
organization recently co-hosted town hall meetings with local community 
anti-drug coalitions, highlighting the risks of legalizing marijuana. 
Project SAM has also briefed State officials about the dangers of 
legalizing marijuana.
  It is not every day that I have the occasion to praise a Democrat. 
However, Congressman Kennedy is to be commended for his courage in 
coming forward and participating in this debate by publicizing the 
dangers of marijuana use and opposing the Obama administration's 
failure to enforce Federal law in this area. His voice is a welcome one 
for those of us who believe that the legalization of marijuana is an 
unwise policy that will have a profoundly negative effect on public 
health and the lives of many young people.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                   [From NBCnews.com, Feb. 14, 2014]

    Treatment or Jail: Patrick Kennedy Wages Fierce Anti-Pot Crusade

                           (By Tony Dokoupil)

       As a hard-partying teenager, Patrick Kennedy met President 
     Reagan at a fundraiser for the JFK Library, a meeting 
     captured in a photograph that the former Rhode Island 
     congressman now hangs in his home office. He used to think of 
     it as a funny episode, a collision of Camelot's cocaine kid 
     and America's foremost opponent of illegal drug use. But 
     Kennedy took his last hit of anything in 2009, and he's since 
     honed an anti-drug message that sounds a bit like Reagan with 
     a Boston brogue.
       Kennedy believes there is ``an epidemic in this country of 
     epic dimensions when it comes to alcohol and drugs. He'd like 
     to treat it all, but he's convinced that the single biggest 
     threat to America's mental health is free-market marijuana. 
     So even as Democrats favor the legalization of pot--by a 34-
     point margin, according to the latest WSJ/NBC News poll--the 
     scion of America's most famous Democratic family has broken 
     ranks, criticized the White House, and aligned with the likes 
     of Newt Gingrich to warn voters against trying to tax and 
     regulate today's psychoactive chlorophyll.
       ``I don't think the American public has any clue about this 
     stuff,'' says Kennedy, after welcoming guests with a choice 
     of Gatorade or bottled water.
       The ``stuff'' in question is modern marijuana, of course, 
     which gets pumped into snack foods and candies, and carries 
     more THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that gets you 
     high) than the ditch weed used by the hippie generation. 
     Kennedy calls legalization ``a public health nightmare 
     because he believes it will warm more people to a dangerous 
     drug, and lead inevitably to ``Big Marijuana,'' a blood-
     sucking vice industry dependent on converting kids and 
     selling to heavy users--same as the tobacco and alcohol 
     industries.
       ``The science tells the story,'' he says, breaking into an 
     attack on the idea that marijuana is safer than alcohol. He 
     ticks through studies showing that smoked marijuana is 
     ``associated with'' or ``linked to'' IQ loss, psychosis, and 
     self-reported dissatisfaction with life. ``It takes you to 
     the same place as cocaine or heroin,'' he often adds. ``It 
     just takes longer.''
       ``Incarceration is a powerful motivator,'' says Kennedy, 
     who after a prescription drug-addled crash in 2006 spent a 
     year urinating in front of a probation officer three times a 
     week.
       Last January Kennedy went public with his beliefs, 
     launching Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or Project SAM, a 
     campaign to keep marijuana illegal and address the failings 
     of the drug war through other means. But what other means? 
     Kennedy has sometimes been vague, promising ``a fresh 
     approach that neither legalizes, nor demonizes marijuana,'' 
     but never quite clarifying what makes him different from 
     Reagan-era prohibitionists.
       Not anymore. In a series of interviews, Kennedy and his 
     cofounder Kevin Sabet--a former senior advisor to the Obama 
     administration on drug policy--previewed SAM's aggressive new 
     posture for 2014. It's not a new War on Pot, but it might be 
     the most potent campaign since Nancy Reagan made marijuana 
     the centerpiece of her ``Just say no'' tour three decades 
     ago.
       As Kennedy and Sabet cut a path between the poles of 
     legalization and prohibition, they seem to list toward the 
     status quo. They would make the simple possession of 
     marijuana a civil infraction, like jaywalking, which could 
     take 750,000 annual marijuana arrests down to zero, and 
     alleviate the disproportionate burden that prohibition puts 
     on people who are nonwhite and poor.
       But instead of handcuffs, Kennedy and Sabet propose a 
     mandatory screening for marijuana addiction, according to the 
     ``Legal Reform'' section of their website. That could lead to 
     ``marijuana education,'' and ultimately a year in a 
     ``probation program to prevent further drug use.'' And if the 
     pot smoker still insists on getting high? It's handcuffs 
     time.
       ``Incarceration is a powerful motivator,'' says Kennedy, 
     who after a prescription drug-related car crash in 2006 spent 
     a year urinating in front of a probation officer three times 
     a week. He faced a jail term if he relapsed. ``That does it 
     for a lot of people,'' he added. ``That's the turning point: 
     hearing that judge say treatment or jail.''
       ``I think Madison Avenue has proven that it can get around 
     more rules and be more ruthless than any Mexican drug 
     cartel,'' adds Sabet.
       Kennedy and Sabet can also sound old-school on medical 
     marijuana. As a member of Congress, Kennedy voted in favor of 
     allowing patients access to pot but now says he was wrong. 
     He'd like to repeal every law that treats smoked marijuana as 
     medicine. Instead he hopes to see pharmaceutical-grade 
     cannabis satisfy an FDA approval process and sell as a patch 
     or pill. ``We don't smoke opium for morphine,'' as Sabet 
     explains, ``we don't need to smoke pot for medicine.''
       SAM's opponents argue that legalizing weed would raise tax 
     revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, 
     and undercut Mexico's violent drug cartels. Kennedy and 
     Sabet sharply dispute all this--and so much more--but 
     they're particularly unapologetic about championing the 
     continued existence of a black market. They say it's 
     mostly nonviolent on the American side, and will create 
     fewer public health problems than allowing advertisers to 
     flog for Big Marijuana.
       ``There is no way to minimize the greed and profit motive 
     in promoting a dangerous substance,'' says Kennedy. When it 
     comes to pushing a product, adds Sabet, ``I think Madison 
     Avenue has proven that it can get around more rules and be 
     more ruthless than any Mexican drug cartel.'' He calls the 
     black market, ``better than having Joe Pot, heir to Joe 
     Camel, on a bus-stop where I'm going to be hanging out with 
     my kids before school.''
       When Project SAM launched, opponents mocked the effort as 
     foolhardy, and they had a point. Voters had just legalized 
     marijuana by a landslide in Colorado and Washington. Polls 
     showed that a majority of Americans supported doing the same 
     nationwide, and Kennedy could do little at first but appear 
     on TV as the token voice of dissent.
       Now, however, SAM is poised to launch a serious counter-
     offensive. It began this month with a billboard outside the 
     Super Bowl.``Marijuana kills your drive,'' read the 
     carefully-calibrated text, which picked up national coverage, 
     spreading on a tide of the opposition's howls and guffaws.
       It was crafted by Sabet, a 34-year-old prodigy of drug 
     politics, who launched his first anti-drug campaign (Citizens 
     for a Drug-Free Berkeley) while in college and is now, in the 
     opinion of Rolling Stone, the number one national ``enemy of 
     legalization.''
       ``Yep,'' he emailed after the ad launched. ``Game on.''
       ``My name is John and marijuana ruined my life,'' begins 
     one entry from a young man who says that marijuana took ``the 
     gifts and potential I was born with.''
       The game continues this spring, with SAM planning a 
     response to ``We Are the Marijuana Majority,'' a web 
     compendium of legalization's best and most famous friends, 
     launched with a grant from the Drug Policy Alliance, a 
     leading advocate for reform. The SAM answer will be a 
     directory of--you guessed it--the anti-marijuana majority.
       The precise URL and title is still under discussion, but 
     the webpage will feature opponents of legalization, an 
     infinite scroll of head shots and quotes from the likes of 
     Tina Brown, David Brooks, and Barack Obama (whose tangled 
     statements on the subject appear to have landed him on both 
     sites at once).
       SAM's second website will take aim at Colorado and 
     Washington, the world's first state-approved markets for 
     marijuana, and to Kennedy and Sabet a slowly unfolding 
     disaster that will prove them right in the end. The Justice 
     Department has said it will shut down the state experiments 
     if the regulations fail or public health falters, which is 
     why SAM will use this site to track every known example of 
     pot gone wrong.
       The third website is tentatively titled ``The Other Side of 
     Marijuana'' and it will collect stories from people who 
     believe marijuana damaged their lives. It's a counterpoint to 
     the notion that marijuana is a safe, non-addictive substance. 
     Based on a sample of entries, it's also likely to draw more 
     fire than anything SAM has done yet.
       ``My name is John and marijuana ruined my life,'' begins 
     one note from a young man who says that marijuana took ``the 
     gifts and potential I was born with.'' ``Most of my 
     daughter's former friends are in jail or

[[Page S1276]]

     dead,'' adds the mother of an 18-year-old in residential 
     treatment for marijuana addiction. She is ``sickened'' by the 
     idea that marijuana will be the next big business in America.
       In another note a therapist quits her practice in despair 
     after a rise in marijuana-related patients. ``I witnessed 
     first-hand too many of the problems,'' she writes, ticking 
     off ``anxiety, depression, irritability and psychosis.''
       ``This is the stuff of life,'' Kennedy says, trying to 
     explain his passion for drug policy, ``so you bet I'm 
     emotional about it.''
       Not every pot smoker goes crazy or brainless, as Kennedy 
     admits, but SAM is about minimizing the risk to those who--
     like him--start drugs young and are predisposed to break bad 
     for life. After he got married in 2011, in his early 40s, he 
     moved to his wife's hometown of Atlantic City, N.J. Now he is 
     the father of three kids under 5 (one is a step-child), and 
     he worries they will inherit his addictions. He can also see 
     the casinos from his backyard.
       ``The appetite for Americans to lose themselves is just . . 
     . '' Kennedy shakes his head and seems too pained to finish 
     the thought. His six-week-old daughter was fussy the night 
     before, and it was his turn to shush and pace. In the 
     hallway, near a stairway to where his 20-month-old son is 
     napping, there's a toy fire engine and Kennedy's eyes return 
     to it again and again. Suddenly, he seems to be on the brink 
     of tears.
       ``This is the stuff of life,'' he says, trying to explain 
     his passion for drug policy, ``so you bet I'm emotional about 
     it.''
       The rollout of the new SAM continued this month at a 
     conference in Washington, D.C., where Kennedy and Sabet held 
     a standing-room-only rally for supporters. They celebrated 
     25,000 media mentions, and 22 states with SAM affiliates. 
     They aired footage of Kennedy telling CNN's Sanjay Gupta that 
     his ballyhooed endorsement of marijuana was ``shameful,'' a 
     ratings ploy that ``history will not remember well.''
       So far, however, the legalization side seems to have an 
     edge in the war of ridicule. They charge Kennedy and Sabet 
     with 21 st century reefer madness, which the duo bats away as 
     a sign that the opposition is afraid to engage with the 
     facts. But while they can sometimes be unpopular at parties, 
     they keep going, fueled by those letters from the public, and 
     enthusiastic notes from past drug advisors.
       ``SAM is doing what no one else has done and doing a darn 
     good job of it,'' wrote Robert DuPont, Richard Nixon's head 
     of drug control, in a recent email to Sabet. ``Absolutely 
     brilliant presentation,'' Clinton-era drug czar Barry 
     McCaffrey added in a different note.
       In a sense, nothing has changed since a teenage Kennedy 
     gave President Reagan a sly smile. To make the world a 
     healthier place, the anti-drug crowd wants to protect people 
     from their most dangerous appetites. The reform side supports 
     the same vision of health but wants to make drug use itself 
     safer, believing that insobriety is normal and indulgence 
     inevitable.
       Neither side appears to be winning, because there's no such 
     thing as an ``objective'' position on marijuana policy. Would 
     legalization really be so bad? Or is it the panacea its 
     proponents claim? The honest answer is: nobody knows for 
     sure, because no modern nation has ever tried legalization 
     before--until now.
       ``Life isn't really in our control,'' says Kennedy, as 
     another sober day fades to night. ``There's a mover in the 
     universe, a higher power, so to speak, and we can't imagine 
     what we're going to find in our universe if we let go and 
     just let God lead us.''

                          ____________________