Testimony in Opposition to Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee:

My name is Ryan Hamilton, and I am Government Relations Associate for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota.  The Church’s advocacy in the public arena is aimed at serving as a present voice in defense of human dignity and the common good.

Pope Francis has given us great guidance on this issue. In 2013 he said, quote “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. In 2014 in an address to the International Drug Enforcement Conference he remined us that, quote “Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs,’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects.” End quote

HF600 is bad bill. This bill is bad for adolescents, bad for our brothers and sisters with substance abuse problems, bad for those that use our highways, and bad for the common good.

A Colorado Depart of Public Health report reveals that Smoking and vaping are the most popular forms of cannabis consumption. Why is the Legislature trying to propagate a new smoking industry during a respiratory pandemic?

This is an attempt to create another big tobacco. Don’t take my word for it, look at the outcomes in the other states that have gone down this path. For example, a recently released study of 7th,9th, and 11th graders found significant increases in marijuana use among almost all demographics.

Pope Francis has also stated that, quote, “it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty, and giving them hope for the future.”

We believe reconciliation for disparate marijuana enforcement should be discussed, but as separate bill. It is unfortunate that bipartisan concerns about racial justice are being used as a cover to prop up a commercial drug industry. Let’s work for justice without sanctioning a marijuana business that preys on adolescents.