By Joe Tilton
Congressman John Moolenaar said, “I’m voting no” during a conversation in the hall in front of his office.
The issue was an amendment to attach to the Spending Bill before Congress intended to keep the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Justice away from regulating marijuana, or even enforcing marijuana laws in states allowing legal sales of the drug. Through the “Blumenauer Recreational Pot Amendment,” an attempt to clear the legal path to a pot free-for-all was made Thursday afternoon at 5:20. Sad to report; we lost. The vote was 267 to 165. We have another chance to defeat the amendment when it goes to the Senate.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) rallied forces from parents who have lost children to pot, to visit Congressional offices to lobby for “no” votes. Most Republican representatives were already against the amendment, while most Democrats were for it. The challenge was to tip the scales in favor of keeping the FDA and DOJ on the job to enforce laws on the books.
As strange as it may be, Congress has altered the procedure for changing their minds about laws previously enacted. Instead of action to repeal the law, they cut off funding to tie the hands of the enforcing agency. Response from federal representatives from states allowing recreational pot has been to cooperate by changing enforcement capabilities.
As the group of grieving parents visited offices in congressional office buildings, a mixture of response was received. For example; those from Colorado were cold to the “no” vote request, while conservative states holding to their anti-psychotic drug laws agreed to keep, particularly FDA, involved in the process.
One piece of critical information relayed to every House of Representatives member approached, showed how marijuana is linked to higher death rates from opioid overdoses. The most definitive study, released this month, was done in Colorado, now in their seventh year of legalized use of pot. Their death rates from opioid use are up 23-percent. The reporting agency is the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
The issue, as presented to members of congress, is a choice of consuming a substance regulated by the FDA, as opposed to approval by the legislature. Add to the issue, the list of hard metals found in marijuana consumables, even toluene, in highly concentrated vaping fluids, and most side with Food and Drug Administration enforcement. For a substance claimed to cure virtually everything, contaminates more resemble what you find in cigarettes than medicine.
Congressman Paul Gosar, Fourth District, Arizona, was most receptive through his Legislative Assistant, Will Stechschulte. At the beginning of the meeting, there were more questions than expected, yet it took less than an hour of detailed reporting to convince how a “no” vote would be prudent for the health and safety of his constituents.
John W. Rose, Sixth District of Tennessee, was an enthusiastic supporter of a “no” vote. And to the delight of the parents, Jason Scism has been added as a full-time lobbyist for SAM to fight the growing spread of the marijuana industry and the devastation resulting. During a discussion with Scism, he said he was personally invested in the cause and would not agree to lobby for the pro-pot crowd.
Another article will describe the way things are in Washington, including the community around the Capitol, attitudes and how the “place” works.
A perspective we heard several times came from staffers who work in offices supporting congressmen. The comment was, “Now that I see what they have to do, I wouldn’t think of running for office.”