Drug Policy Alliance Leads Extensive Coalition of Public Health Organizations and Professionals in Calling on Congress to Support Marijuana Reform

Press Release August 10, 2020
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) led a group of 16 public health organizations and over 100 public health professionals in calling on members of Congress to support comprehensive marijuana reform by bringing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) to the House floor for a vote in September.

The letter argues that ending federal prohibition of marijuana will reduce the public health harms of criminalization, reduce barriers and increase opportunities for research and medical advances, and protect patients in states with medical and adult access from federal interference.

“From the mental health impacts of over-policing to loss of social services and housing insecurity, the drug war is a huge driver of health disparities in communities of color and low-income communities,” said Queen Adesuyi, Policy Manager for the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Congress must answer the call of the public health community and take this monumental step towards repairing these harms.”

As outlined in the letter, the MORE Act will reduce criminalization and associated risks to health and well-being, particularly in communities of color—which are disproportionately targeted for marijuana enforcement despite similar rates of marijuana use among Black and white people. Collateral consequences of drug convictions can also be major determinants of health, and can include ineligibility for social services including public housing, restricted employment opportunities, ineligibility for federal financial aid and denial of voting rights.

“As a public health researcher who is trying to study the effects of marijuana on health, I know that passing the MORE Act will make it easier for us to understand marijuana and its many effects, including potential medical uses that could benefit society at large,” said Dr. Danielle Ompad, Associate Dean for Education and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the NYU School of Global Public Health. “But what makes the MORE Act absolutely essential is that it will help communities avoid the very real harms they face daily due to the criminalization and enforcement of our marijuana laws- particularly  Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income communities. Federal prohibition is an utter failure, and has only served to worsen public and community health. We have waited far too long and it is essential that Congress act now.”

“Of all the illegal drugs zealously pursued by law enforcement, cannabis is far and away the main target of racially biased policing. Furthermore, cannabis’ Schedule 1 status is intellectually dishonest, given its established medicinal benefits and relative safety for healthy adults,” said Dr. David L. Nathan, MD, Founder and Board President of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. “Along with hundreds of fellow members of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, I strongly urge Congress to end the unjust prohibition of this drug and take action on the MORE Act.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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