Dear Madam Speaker, Representatives McCarthy, Hoyer, and Scalise,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong opposition to H.R. 3617, the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act,” which would effectively decriminalize marijuana.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is a Schedule I drug and is classified as such because of the higher potential for abuse, and because there is no accepted medical use for marijuana that is recognized by the Federal government.
Despite consistent and vigorous warnings about the impact of increased marijuana use on public health and safety from the FOP, as well as other law enforcement, public safety, and public health organizations, certain States have legalized the use, sale, production, and possession of marijuana for recreational and purported medical reasons. This is at variance with existing Federal law. At the FOP National Conference in 2017, our members unanimously adopted a resolution reaffirming our support for the continued prohibition of marijuana which is why we continue to oppose legislation like the “MORE Act.”
Public safety is threatened by the increased use of marijuana nationwide, and States which have elected to disregard the Federal prohibition on this drug have not been able to mitigate the black market in their own jurisdictions or prevent trafficking into and from other States. Marijuana, like any illegal drug, is a risk to public safety. It is intrinsically linked to the violence of drug trafficking and is not “harmless.” Studies have shown that those who use marijuana at a young age are more likely to become addicted to opioids, further contributing to the national opioid epidemic. Furthermore, marijuana is itself an addictive substance. Another growing public safety issue is driving under the influence of marijuana. There is no standard or reliable analysis available to law enforcement officers to identify the impairment of a driver who has used marijuana. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2013-2014 study of weekend nighttime drivers showed that 12.6% of drivers tested positive for THC, an increase of 48% from that number in 2007.
This bill would also allow for the expungement of Federal marijuana offenses and sentencing review. Not only will this put a burden on the court system, but it does not take into consideration the circumstances surrounding the conviction or the fact that at the time of the conviction they knowingly broke the law. This would allow drug dealers and other violent offenders to have their records expunged, thus endangering public safety. Enabling more of our fellow citizens to use drugs like marijuana is too great of a risk to public safety and any provision that legalizes marijuana should be rejected.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I urge members of the House to vote against H.R. 3617 when it comes to the floor this week. If I can provide any further information on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.