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Menendez Introduces Marijuana Data Collection Act

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to create a marijuana data study into the impacts and effects of state-legalized medicinal cannabis and non-medicinal programs.

The Marijuana Data Collection Act is sponsored by Menendez and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), in the Senate. Members of Congress Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas-29) and Don Young (R-Alaska) are sponsoring it in the House of Representatives.

The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and state health agencies to collaborate. They must enter a ten-year arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to study the effects of legalized state cannabis programs.

This study would evaluate the impacts and effects of state-legalized medicinal cannabis and non-medicinal cannabis programs. It would look into state economies, public health, criminal justice, and employment.

The study would inform policy and increase transparency by making the data collected publicly available and generating Best Practices recommendations.

“We must take a thorough examination at how different laws and policies in different states have been implemented, what works, what doesn’t. And what can be replicated elsewhere,” said Menendez. 

“It’s important to understand how communities and people are ultimately impacted by marijuana legalization and its effect on local economies, public health, criminal justice, employment, and our nation’s battle with opioid and other drug addiction.  Having this data at our fingertips and making it available to the public will help drive public policy decisions and dispel any misconceptions about marijuana legalization,” Menendez added.

Marijuana Data Study Bill

The Marijuana Data study would assess the revenues, taxes generated via the state-authorized programs. It would examine how these funds were utilized, and the program(s)’s total impact on the state and its budget. The study would analyze rates of medicinal cannabis usage by population groups, reasons for usage, and the medical conditions primarily treated with cannabis.

It would assess the impact cannabis has had on substance abuse via opioid/painkiller overdose rates, healthcare facility opioid/painkiller overdose admission rates, opioid/painkiller crime rates, and opioid/painkiller prescription rates.

“Federal cannabis policy is archaic and need of an urgent update,” said Congressman Young. 

He noted he’s Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and the Representative of a state that legalized adult-use marijuana.

Young argued marijuana data will help craft policies that promote health and reform federal cannabis laws.

“This is a very good bill. It will help us learn from other states and municipalities that have legalized marijuana,” Young said.

There has yet to be a comprehensive federal analysis of state-legalized cannabis on state economies, health, criminal justice, and employment. There has been a massive discrepancy between federal and state policies that have been permitted to exist.

“Congress and the American people need reliable facts on the impact of states’ legal marijuana programs.  We need independent data on how these programs impact state budgets, the public health, and employment. This is especially important amid the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Garcia. 

“By entrusting the National Academy of Sciences to objectively study state marijuana programs. We will have unbiased information to make decisions based in reality. Not historical prejudices or preconceived ideas.”

The results of the marijuana data study would be submitted to Congress. The best practices on data collection would be published.

The Marijuana Data Collection Act is supported by NORML & the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). The Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) also like it.

Last month Menendez and Paul introduced the CLAIM Act to open insurance markets to cannabis and cannabis-related businesses. They have also cosponsored the SAFE Banking Act. It would allow cannabis businesses to open accounts, write checks, seek financing, accept credit cards from customers, and process payroll. They could also access other banking products.

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