In a bizarre move that stretches the boundaries of rational policy-making, a lawmaker has filed a bill intended to prevent people from consuming a plant. The bill, known as the “Stop Pot Act,” proposes that the federal government withhold 10 percent of highway funds from states that violate the federal Controlled Substances Act, which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. This categorization places the plant in the same realm as heroin, a far deadlier narcotic, ignoring years of evidence disputing this questionable equivalency.
In an announcement, Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-NC) touts the proposed legislation, claiming that it will somehow cut down on crime and drug addiction:
U.S. Congressman Chuck Edwards (NC-11) today introduced the Stop Pot Act to withhold certain federal funding from states and tribes that permit the use of recreational marijuana.
The Stop Pot Act will withhold 10 percent of federal highway funds for governments that violate federal law under the Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits recreational marijuana and classifies it as a Schedule I drug. This legislation does not apply to jurisdictions that authorize medical use of marijuana when prescribed by a licensed medical professional.
“The laws of any government should not infringe on the overall laws of our nation, and federal funds should not be awarded to jurisdictions that willfully ignore federal law,” said Edwards. “During a time when our communities are seeing unprecedented crime, drug addiction, and mental illness, the Stop Pot Act will help prevent even greater access to drugs and ease the strain placed on our local law enforcement and mental health professionals who are already stretched thin.”
The timing of this proposal is suspect, to say the least. It comes just after the U.S. Department of Health sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requesting that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III drug. This would effectively make the plant legal for medicinal use.
Polling has increasingly shown that the majority of Americans believe the government should not have the authority to punish people for possessing or consuming the plant. A 2021 Gallup poll showed 68 percent of Americans supporting its legalization. A Pew Research Study from 2022 revealed that a staggering 88 percent of Americans believe it should be legal for medical or recreational purposes.
So why does Rep. Edwards think this bill is a good idea? He argues that the Stop Pot Act will somehow “prevent even greater access to drugs and ease the strain placed on our local law enforcement and mental health professionals.” Perhaps police departments would not be under such a “strain” if their officers were not tasked with policing substances people willingly choose to put into their own bodies. Maybe then, they could focus on apprehending those who are actually violating other people’s rights?
Edwards’ reasoning reflects a continuing misplaced faith in the War on Drugs, which has been shown to be a complete and utter failure that has cost taxpayers over $1 trillion since it began. I broke this down in a recent post elsewhere:
According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, in 1981, the federal budget for drug abuse prevention and control was just over a billion dollars. By 2020, that number had grown to $34.6 billion. When adjusted for inflation, this translates to a staggering 1,090% increase in just 39 years.
The White House estimates that the national drug control budget will reach a historic level of $41 billion by 2022. The largest increases in funding are requested to support drug treatment and drug prevention.
Even further, the Stop Pot Act is a brazen assault on state autonomy. The federal government should never have the authority to dictate how states deal with the substances its people decide to consume.
This bill is a misguided and, frankly, goofy effort to solve a problem it is not even addressing. Scapegoating marijuana will not do anything to address issues of drug addiction or violent crime. Public opinion has moved on, and the science has revealed the folly of such an action. Too bad some members of our legislature are still living back in the early 20th century.
This news publication supports the constitution of the United States. As well as our President Donald J Trump