SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The California Coalition Against Drugs has been a strong advocate against the legalization of commercial marijuana. In a press release on March 22, the organization voiced its concern about the possible reintroduction of the States Act.
The States Act, also known as S.B. 3032 and H.R. 6043, was introduced in last year’s 115th Congress. The States Act was an attempt to eliminate all federal regulations on marijuana and to amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which would remove the production and sale of marijuana from the federal controlled substances list in states where marijuana is already legalized.
The Epoch Times reached out to Frank Lee, Bay Area Director for the California Coalition Against Drugs, to take a closer look at the issue. Lee explained that because marijuana is currently a controlled substance, there is still a level of federal control and regulation regarding production and distribution.
While the States Act failed to pass Congress last year, the concern is now whether or not the States Act or a similar bill will be reintroduced in the current 116th Congress.
— DdC (@DendeCannabist) July 28, 2018
Lee said that if the bill is reintroduced, it could end California residents’ fight against marijuana, because the bill seeks to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and end federal intervention.
“If prohibiting federal intervention is the only thing on this bill, that’s still bad; but removing marijuana from [the] Controlled Substances Act is even worse,” said Lee.
Removing marijuana from the CSA list could open the door for the cannabis industry to expand and to produce and sell marijuana as an ordinary product.
“A lot of the disclosure requirements and restrictions would be removed, so you and I can accidentally eat food, candies, cookies, or whatever with elements of marijuana. That’s very serious, especially to the young people,” Lee said.
Some people have argued that marijuana is used in the medical field, as doctors may prescribe medical marijuana. However, the U.S. Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists marijuana as a CSA Schedule I substance.
The DEA states, “Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.”
Many communities have expressed concern about this lack of scientific and medical evidence of the benefits and safety of marijuana, paired with the high potential for abuse.
Lee said that many Asian-American communities are opposed to the drug and do not wish for their families or themselves to be exposed to it.
“People can say that they want freedom. But this goes way beyond freedom for anybody. This is like imposing on everybody who opposes marijuana,” said Lee.
For people who are opposed to marijuana, the lack of disclosure would forcibly subject them to a substance they do not wish to be in contact with. To them, the issue isn’t so much about freedom, but rather the effects of recreational marijuana on public health and society.
Additionally, Lee expressed concern about the possibility of a new “Big Tobacco” if marijuana were to be sold as an ordinary product.
“Marijuana businesses and corporate holding companies will be given full access to institutional investors and capital markets,” said Lee.
He said that cartels and black market exports could arise if such legislation were to pass. A spillover effect would hurt states where marijuana is not legalized.
The full legalization of marijuana and its removal as a Schedule I substance would exempt marijuana businesses from 280E of the IRS code, allowing such businesses to file for tax deductions.
Lee concluded by urging Californians who oppose marijuana to reach out to Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Lindsay Graham or their local legislators to voice opinions against bills that seek to reduce or eliminate restrictions on marijuana.