Reaffirmation of Position on Marijuana in the United States
Submitted by: Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee
WHEREAS, the continued placement of marijuana in Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act establishes that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the substance under medical supervision; and
WHEREAS, 11 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana for personal or recreational use as of May 2020;64 and
WHEREAS, most states that have legalized marijuana have placed no limits on the delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) potency—the primary psychoactive component of marijuana thought to be related to many of marijuana’s adverse effects—and as a result, THC potency has increased from an average concentration of 4 percent in 1995 to 17.1 percent in 201765 and retail marijuana dispensaries’ advertisements routinely promote smokable marijuana at levels of 30 percent THC or more;66 and
WHEREAS, data from the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Program confirms that average THC potency in both traditional and concentrated marijuana increased in 2018 reaching the highest levels ever recorded by the program;67 and
WHEREAS, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States with approximately 11.8 million young adults reporting marijuana use in 2019;68 and
WHEREAS, marijuana use is widespread among adolescents and young adults with 11.8 percent of 8th graders, 28.8 percent of 10th graders, and 35.7 percent of 12th graders having reported using marijuana in 2019;69 and
WHEREAS, about one in ten marijuana users will become addicted, and for people who begin using before the age of 18, one in six will become addicted;70 and
WHEREAS, marijuana use directly affects the brain and the areas responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision-making, coordination, emotions, and reaction time;71 and
WHEREAS, developing brains, like those of infants, children, and teenagers, are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of marijuana;72 and
WHEREAS, pregnant women use marijuana more than any other illicit drug and many retail dispensaries recommend marijuana to pregnant women for morning sickness, despite significant risks to the developing fetus and newborns, including low birth weight and brain development;73 and
WHEREAS, marijuana use remains illegal for youth under federal and state law in all states and the normalization of its use raises the potential for criminal consequences and a false and dangerous perception of safety in this population resulting in increased use;74 and
WHEREAS, frequent marijuana use during adolescence is associated with changes in the areas in the brain involved in attention and memory, impaired learning and declines in IQ and school performance, increased rates of school absence and drop-out, as well as suicide attempts, risk for and early onset of psychotic disorders, and other substance use;75 and
WHEREAS, observational studies have linked the chemicals in marijuana to an increased risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, and users have a significantly higher risk of having a stroke compared to nonusers;76 and
WHEREAS, marijuana users are significantly more likely than nonusers to develop temporary psychosis and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia;77 and
WHEREAS, drugged driving is a growing public health concern, especially with the recent legislation legalizing marijuana use in certain states in the United States and data from the Center for Disease Control showing that 12 million people reported driving under the influence of marijuana in 2018;78 and
WHEREAS, transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) continue to operate and profit from black market marijuana sales in legalized U.S. marijuana markets despite state legalization;80 and
WHEREAS, drug traffickers obtain supplies from each type of marijuana market operating in the United States: illicit markets, state-approved medical marijuana markets, and state-approved personal use/recreational markets, all of which are considered illicit under federal law;81 and
WHEREAS, in light of the rapidly shifting legal landscape, more research is urgently needed to better understand the impact of legalization on public health before the U.S. Congress takes steps to decriminalize or remove marijuana from federal control; and
WHEREAS, legalization of marijuana has not adversely impacted TCO profitability in marijuana markets, but rather, the legalization has brought new opportunities for illicit profits from marijuana sales;82 and
WHEREAS, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in its resolution, restates its position that state laws seeking to legalize and decriminalize marijuana ignores the connection between marijuana and crime and the enforcement problems created by trafficking marijuana across state, local, and tribal borders, as well as the adverse economic, social, and environmental costs that marijuana legalization causes; and
WHEREAS, providing legalized marijuana-related businesses and their service providers with access to U.S. financial services creates an opportunity for TCOs and poly-drug trafficking organizations to exploit the U.S. financial system by masking or attempting to mask the proceeds of illicit drug trafficking as that of marijuana sales;83
WHEREAS the legalization, decriminalization, or descheduling of marijuana so as to remove it from regulation and criminal enforcement would have devastating consequences for the health and welfare of our communities by making a dangerous drug easily obtainable and creating opportunities for poly- drug organizations to launder drug proceeds through legitimately established accounts for marijuana businesses; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the IACP reaffirms its past position on the dangers and risks posed by cannabis sativa l, its long-standing opposition to the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, and its continued support of the United States’ ability to effectively investigate and prosecute those individuals involved in the production and sale of marijuana in violation of federal laws; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the IACP strongly calls upon the U.S. Congress, the states, and territories to reject any legislation that seeks to legalize, decriminalize, and/or remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act; and
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the IACP calls upon the U.S. Congress to protect the U.S. financial system from use and exploitation by those involved in the manufacture, sale, distribution, and possession of marijuana.
68 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “What Is the Scope of Marijuana Use in the United States?” Marijuana Research Report (NIDA, 2020).
71 Id. (citations to supporting academic research omitted).
72 Id. (citations to supporting academic research omitted).
73 U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., U.S. Surgeon Gen. Advisory: Marijuana Use & the Developing Brain, (Aug. 29, 2019), https://www.hhs.gov/surgeongeneral/reports-and-publications/addiction-and-substance-misuse/advisory-on-marijuana-use- and-developing-brain/index.html (last visited August 10, 2020) (citations to supporting academic research omitted).
74 Id., (citations to supporting academic research omitted).
75 Id., (citations to supporting academic research omitted).
76 Page, Robert L., et al., Medical Marijuana, Recreational Cannabis, & Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement From the Am. Heart Ass’n, Circulation, at e9–10, Aug. 5, 2020, www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000883 (last visited Aug. 10, 2020).
77 The Center for Disease Control, Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?, (updated Feb. 27, 2018), https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html (last visited Aug. 10, 2020) (citations to supporting academic research omitted)
78 Center for Disease Control & Prevention, Morbidity & Mortality Wkly. Rep., Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana & Illicit Drugs Among Persons Aged ≥ 16 Years - United States, 2018 (Dec 20, 2019), available at www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/pdfs/mm6850a1-H.pdf (last visited Aug. 10, 2020)
79 Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Practical Theorist 12, Cannabis The Current State of Aff, 2020, at 10–11, available at www.cadca.org/sites/default/files/practical_theorist_12_cannabis_the_current_state_of_affairs_final.pdf (last accessed Aug. 10, 2020).
80 Drug Enf’t Admin., 2019 DEA Nat’l Drug Threat Assmt., Dec. 2019, at 81, 83, 89, https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-01/2019-NDTA-final-01-14-2020_Low_Web-DIR-007-20_2019.pdf (last accessed Aug. 10, 2020); see also El Paso Intell. Ctr. Bulletin, Transnat’l Criminal Org. Continue to Operate & Profit from Marijuana Sales in Legalized Markets, February 24, 2017.
81 Drug Enf’t Admin., 2019 DEA Nat’l Drug Threat Assmt., Dec. 2019, at 80, https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020- 01/2019-NDTA-final-01-14-2020_Low_Web-DIR-007-20_2019.pdf (last accessed Aug. 10, 2020).
82 El Paso Intelligence Ctr Bulletin, Transnat’l Criminal Org. Continue to Operate & Profit from Marijuana Sales in Legalized Markets, Feb. 24, 2017.
83 See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(c)(7) (“the term ‘specified unlawful activity’ means— (B) with respect to a financial transaction occurring in whole or in part in the United States, an offense against a foreign nation involving—(i) the manufacture, importation, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance (as such term is defined for the purposes of the Controlled Substances Act) . . . .”).