Now that the US has a number of recreational cannabis programs to complement existing medical cannabis programs (or replace them, in which case boooo), there are unanswered questions surrounding the impact of these programs. Are people smoking more or less? How many jobs are being created? Are people using vape pens the size of light sabers suffering from higher rates of carpal tunnel syndrome than the general public?
To help answer (some of) these questions, yesterday Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act. As Forbes reports, the bill, which has co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, would require the Department of Health and Human Services and other state and federal agencies to study "the effects of State legalized marijuana programs on the economy, public health, criminal justice and employment."
"For decades, bad data and misinformation have fueled the failed war on drugs that's wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, incarcerating Americans for nonviolent marijuana charges," Gabbard said in a House floor speech previewing the bill on Monday evening. "Our outdated marijuana policies have turned everyday Americans into criminals, strained our criminal justice system, cost taxpayers tremendously and torn families apart. Our federal policies should be based on actual science and fact, not misplaced stigma and outdate myths."If the bill passes, the National Academy of Sciences would publish the first report within 18 months, and every two years after issue a follow-up report. (Dependent on science not being outlawed by the current administration, of course.)
The bill is not pro legalization, but rather simply seeks to gather facts about the impact that regulated recreational and medical cannabis programs have had in a variety of areas. The Forbes piece has a breakdown of the data the officials are hoping to track, including revenues and state allocations, medicinal use of marijuana, substance use, impacts on criminal justice, and employment. We'll track this bill, and update here.