By, Paul Elias
A White House drug office official has offered assurances that a marijuana policy panel will be objective and dispassionate as it examines the effects of legalization in some states, a Colorado senator said.
The vow came after BuzzFeed News reported in August 2018 that the panel intended to portray marijuana as a national threat and criticize state efforts to legalize the drug.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet disclosed the assurances Monday after he asked the Executive Office of the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to respond to the report.
BuzzFeed News said the committee had asked 14 federal agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and its national “threats.” The online news site based its reporting on documents it had obtained.
James Carroll, acting director of the drug office, told the senator the committee would use scientific data in its study of the drug, which is broadly legal in Colorado, Bennett said.
The drug office’s media relations representatives didn’t respond to an email seeking comment late Tuesday.
Colorado was one of the first two states to legalize marijuana and it now has a growing cannabis industry.
“In Colorado, we’ve made a deliberate effort to ensure fact-based data informs our marijuana policies,” Bennet said. “Government-sponsored propaganda shouldn’t undermine that effort.”
Bennett’s Republican Senate counterpart, Cory Gardner, said in April 2018 that he received assurances from President Donald Trump that the Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will not enforce federal crackdowns against cannabis in a legal marijuana state like Colorado.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado is seen through cutouts in a wooden chair July 4, 2017, during a meeting with a group of journalists in Mexico City. Bennet said James Carroll, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), would use scientific data to evaluate the effects of cannabis legalization in Colorado and other states. (Associated Press File Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)