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House GOP Committee Urges Opposition To Marijuana Banking Bill, Saying ‘Gateway Drug’ Causes ‘Violence, Depression And Suicide’

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A Republican House advisory committee is formally opposing marijuana banking legislation and a separate bill to remove past cannabis use as a disqualifying factor for federal employment and security clearances, while broadly criticizing the substance as a “gateway drug” that causes “violence, depression and suicide.”

The House Republican Policy Committee’s new marijuana report also says that Vice President Kamala Harris was “mistaken” when she said cannabis brings people “joy” as a 2020 presidential candidate, instead arguing that it is a “hazardous drug with short and long-term impacts.”

The guidance, which is meant to inform how the GOP caucus should approach marijuana policy issues, briefly describes the history of prohibition and the state legalization movement. It then makes the case that cannabis is a dangerous substance linked to mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, attributing that in part to “the high concentration of THC.”

The committee also cited questionable statistics to argue that state-level legalization is associated with increased violence. And it claimed that marijuana use causes workplace issues such as “decreased productivity, high unemployment claims, and lawsuits.”

“Instead of turning a blind eye to the dangers associated with marijuana and allowing states to have dispensaries on every corner, Congress should work to ensure that laws in relation to marijuana are enforced,” the guidance says.

It included two specific policy recommendations, stating that members should oppose the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking and the Cannabis Users’ Restoration of Eligibility (CURE) Act.

That’s despite the fact that both measures enjoy bipartisan support, and certain members of the policy committee such as Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) have been vocal champions of marijuana reform. McClintock is signed onto the banking bill and Mace is the lead GOP cosponsor of the federal employment and security clearance measure.

Marijuana Moment reached out to the offices of Mace and McClintock for comment about the anti-cannabis document from the organization they serve as members of, but representatives were not immediately available.

The CURE Act, which would prevent the denial of federal employment or security clearances based on a candidate’s past marijuana use, passed the House Oversight Committee in a 30-14 vote last September, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats to advance it.

The House has approved different versions of the SAFE Banking Act with bipartisan support seven times in recent sessions. The current version has 106 cosponsors, including 24 GOP members.

“Marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug with no mechanism to control rouge producers from increasing potency and causing more harm,” the new GOP policy guide, which was quietly posted to the body’s website late last month, concludes. “Rather than labeling marijuana as a recreational drug, it should be labeled for what it is—a gateway drug that increases schizophrenia and impairs cognitive ability.”

The committee, whose chair is the fourth-ranking member of House Republican leadership, “provides a forum for Republican Members to discuss legislative proposals and current topics before the House” and “produces issue backgrounders and conservative policy solutions to the House Republican Conference,” the body’s website says.

Previously, the policy committee also urged the caucus to hold firm in opposition to marijuana legalization in a 2022 letter ahead of a vote to pass the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.

Also that year, the separate Republican Study Committee released a “Family Policy Agenda” that expressed opposition to federal marijuana legalization and similarly attempted to link cannabis use to suicide and violence.


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