US Senate to hold bipartisan hearing on Obama Administration’s failure to monitor impact of marijuana legalization

Today’s hearing will explore GAO report.

Update: video of the hearing.


Press release from SAM…


[WASHINGTON, DC] – On 5 April, two prominent senators will hold a hearing to explore the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report documenting the Obama Administration’s failure to monitor the impact of state marijuana legalization.  Dr. Kathryn Wells, the Medical Director of the Denver Health Clinic at the Family Crisis Center, and a member of SAM’s Science Advisory Board, will be one of the experts providing testimony to the panel, convened by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The hearing, entitled “Is the Department of Justice Adequately Protecting the Public from the Impact of State Recreational Marijuana Legalization?” stems from the Obama Administration’s 2013 decision to effectively suspend enforcement of federal law on marijuana in states that legalized the drug for recreational use.  The Administration also announced federal priorities that it claimed would guide its enforcement going forward, including preventing marijuana from being distributed to minors, stopping the diversion of marijuana into states that did not legalize it, and preventing adverse public health effects.

But almost three years later, the GAO found not only that the DOJ had not monitored its own priorities, but that it had not even collected the necessary information to do so.  Moreover, DOJ officials told GAO investigators that “they did not see a benefit in [the department] documenting how it would monitor the effects of state marijuana legalization.”

“Our elected officials are finally realizing that there has been no effective official oversight of marijuana legalization in our country.  And in its absence, Big Marijuana is enjoying a corporate free-for-all, marketing addictive products to children, lobbying against common-sense regulation such as limits on potency, and distorting medical research on marijuana’s harms,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and co-founder of SAM.

“Already, our state agencies are compromised because of their coziness with Big Marijuana. We’re unprepared to monitor outcomes on our own. The Feds have been looking the other way while we have been dealing with the consequences,” added Jo McGuire, co-chair of Colorado SAM.

Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, also commented, “The DOJ’s failure to monitor has given free rein to the marijuana industry’s disregard for Washington State laws.” 

For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit