February 19, 2019
Dear Mr. Dawson,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your thoughts on marijuana. As a physician and a member of the Doctors Caucus, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me regarding this very important issue.
I understand that marijuana used specifically for medical reasons can result in positive outcomes. For example, in Colorado, Charlotte’s Web, a THC-free strain of marijuana,reportedly reduces seizures among persons suffering from epilepsy. While I support efforts to cure and treat disease, I strongly believe that just like every other medication made available to the public, medical marijuana should be subjected to the FDA for rigorous testing to assure that there are not adverse health risks.
However, marijuana is also the most commonly used illicit drug in the world, including in the United States. In 2016, an estimated 8.9% of individuals in the United States aged 12 or older used marijuana in the past month. The rate of reported marijuana use in 2016 was significantly higher than those rates reported prior to 2007. Mirroring this increase in use, the supply of marijuana in the United States has also increased. This growth has been linked to factors such as certain states’ legalization of recreational marijuana, rising marijuana production in Mexico, decreasing marijuana eradication in Mexico, and increasing marijuana cultivation in the United States led by criminal networks including Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
As a physician, I have serious concerns about the potential impact of legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Legalization in the United States and elsewhere has resulted in documented increases in drug abuse, especially among children and teenagers. Marijuana use literally changes a teenager’s brain structure; diminishes memory, attention and IQ; leads to learning and behavioral problems and poor school performance; and contributes to symptoms of depression, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia. Furthermore, studies show that legalization of “pot” leads to drastic increases of use among young people, with usage increasing more-than-two-fold higher than national averages.
I hope this information has been helpful. As the Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions. To keep up with my work in Congress, visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.Sincerely,
Member of Congress
Andy Harris M.D.