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Bennet: Trump administration is cherry-picking pot data

Author: Joey Bunch - August 30, 2018 - Updated: August 30, 2018

Sen. Michael BennetSen. Michael Bennet (via YouTube screen grab)

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet hasn’t talked as much about Colorado marijuana as his colleague Sen. Cory Gardner has, but on Thursday Bennet wagged a finger at the White House about “misinformed conclusions” on pot.

The Democratic senior senator from Colorado referenced news reports Wednesday that said the Trump administration’s newly established Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee appears to be cherry-picking data to make a case against pot.

“I am deeply concerned by this intentional effort to mislead the American people,” Bennet wrote in a letter to James Carroll, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

He added:

At a time when we should be investing in objective and peer-reviewed scientific research on marijuana and the effects of legalization, the White House is instead using taxpayer money to spread a politically-driven narrative. What’s perhaps most unfortunate is that my state and others stand ready to work as partners with the federal government to gather the data and research necessary to ensure we are protecting public health and safety. It is my hope that the Administration will re-consider its effort to misuse data for political purposes rather than to support conclusions that are fully grounded in peer-reviewed science.

> RELATED: When it comes to data on pot’s impact, the state is driving with its eyes closed

Though still an outlaw in the federal code, marijuana has become a major producer of jobs and tax revenue since Colorado voters legalized recreational use in 2012.

Gardner, a Republican, has had the president’s ear on the topic of protecting well-regulated pot states. Gardner and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are co-sponsoring a bill to protect legalization states from federal intervention.

> RELATED: Colorado traffic deaths involving marijuana rise again

Reports indicated the committee was trawling federal agencies for evidence of “significance of negative trends” related to marijuana to write “slated” reports that would guide federal policy.

Buzzfeed News first reported:

The Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, as it’s named in White House memos and emails, instructed 14 federal agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration this month to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country.

In an ironic twist, the committee complained in one memo that the narrative around marijuana is unfairly biased in favor of the drug. But rather than seek objective information, the committee’s records show it is asking officials only to portray marijuana in a negative light, regardless of what the data show.

You can read the full letter by clicking here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.