Rep. Ted Budd Leads Letter Supporting a Public Health Perspective on Harms of Marijuana
Washington, February 13, 2020
Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Ted Budd (NC-13), along with 11 of his colleagues, sent a letter to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) thanking him for introducing a public health perspective to the question of banking for marijuana enterprises.
Rep. Budd said in a statement:
“I want to thank Sen. Crapo for his leadership in introducing a public health perspective to the issue of banking for the marijuana industry. I believe that we need a full examination of these harms to ensure that Americans, especially our children, don’t fall into an unhealthy lifestyle.”
The full text of the letter is below.
February 13, 2020
Dear Chairman Crapo,
We write as Republican Members of Congress who voted against the SAFE Banking Act in the House of Representatives. Thank you for introducing a public health perspective to the question of banking for marijuana enterprises, including recreational stores that are advertising products that are appealing to children. We understand you have received significant pushback from these businesses for raising public health questions related to their business practices, and we urge you to stand strong.
While we have reservations with the unprecedented approach of allowing banking access for a schedule I drug, in addition to increasing investment in marijuana enterprises even as they remain federally illegal, we view the following items as the most critical problems with legislation that liberalizes federal law surrounding marijuana and would result in increased promotion of marijuana use:
The Surgeon General recently warned about the danger to mental health of today’s high-THC marijuana products, saying “this is not your mother’s marijuana.” The average potency of marijuana during the Woodstock era was 1-3% THC, while today the average potency of marijuana in dispensaries is closer to 20%. In addition, many concentrated products, including vapes, have potencies exceeding 90% THC. Most of the negative impacts we know about from scientific studies, including IQ loss, increased risk of serious mental illness, and addiction, come from relatively low-potency marijuana (approximately 5-10%). We do not yet know the short and long-term impacts on the brain of these high potency products.
We are still experiencing the effects of a vaping crisis, where over 80% of the illnesses and deaths are tied to THC vapes. Recently, the CDC revealed that 1 in 6 of the cases of lung illness tied to THC were in people who only purchased products from marijuana dispensaries. It is very disturbing that despite that, these marijuana enterprises would continue to advertise and promote use of THC vapes, often through social media platforms that are geared towards youth. It is also disturbing how successful they’ve been, with the number of high school seniors vaping THC nearly doubling last year.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having to console grieving families who have lost loved ones to marijuana impaired driving in our states and districts. States that have legalized marijuana have seen sharp increases in active THC found in the blood of those who have caused crashes and fatalities, but all states have been experiencing increased rates of drug-impaired driving. We still don’t have a means for easily detecting roadside marijuana impairment comparable to the breathalyzer. Until we can address these issues, we need to slow down and promote research into the impairment effects of the drug.
We thank you again for your examination and consideration of these important public health topics. We remain opposed to liberalizing drug laws (including around banking), and we see these as some of our areas of greatest concern. We must protect our youth by preventing investment into companies that would prey upon them.
Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC)
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL)
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Rep. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S (R-AZ)
Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC)
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)
Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC)
Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD)