This week, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, in a heated race for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Luther Strange, declared his support for legalizing medical marijuana.
Taking that stance during a Senate race is “absolutely ridiculous,” said former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, also running in the special election to serve the remaining term of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The United States faces bigger, more pressing problems, Moore said, and those issues are what should be addressed during a Senate race, not whether to legalize medical marijuana.
On Monday, Brooks made the declaration at a news conference streamed on Facebook, the same day fellow Senate candidate Dom Gentile — whose wife has cancer — dropped out of the race to endorse Brooks.
The Huntsville Republican said: “Medical cannabis should be treated like any other medical treatment that saves lives or eases pain and symptoms … That is what I believe. That is how I will vote in the Senate. That is how I have voted in the House.”
Appearing on WYDE Wednesday, Moore slammed Brooks’ position as a non-starter.
“I think it’s ridiculous to concentrate on a matter like that as a United States Senator which should be left to the states,” Moore said on The Michael Hart Show. “I mean we got North Korea threatening to nuke us, we got a health care system that’s broken and costs everybody, an immigration system that’s risking the security of our national security because of people flowing across the borders; we’ve got unfair trade agreements … I could go on and on … we got judges thinking they rule the world.”
“About an issue like this,” Moore added, “leave it to the states.”
As for legalization of medical marijuana, it continues to be a hotly debated issue, particularly over the possibility of increased use among youths.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found as more states legalize the drug for adult use, a greater number of teenagers think it is safe. This leads to rising concerns by doctors and other medical professionals that teens are underestimating the risks of marijuana use.
“Marijuana is not a benign drug for teenagers because it affects their developing mind. Teenagers are at a critical time of brain development and they have lifelong impacts from marijuana during adolescence,” Dr. Stephen Patrick of Vanderbilt University Medical Center told Chris Martinez of CBS New York.
“People living in states with legalized medical marijuana are more likely to use and abuse cannabis than people living in states where pot remains completely illegal, says a new study that cautions policymakers,” wrote Trevor Hughes in an April 26 piece for USA Today, reporting on a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health.
In July 2015, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on a study by Florida International University finding legalized medical marijuana could lead to increased marijuana use by teenagers.
According to research by FIU criminal justice professor Lisa Stolzenberg, legalized medical marijuana in Florida marijuana could lead to increased pot use by youths, similar to what happened in other states that passed laws allowing marijuana for the treatment of pain, nausea, vomiting and other medical conditions.
The study also cited statistics for 2010-11, the most recent year in the study, where 9.7 percent of high school students reported using pot in states with legalized medical marijuana, compared to only 6.8 percent in states where it was illegal. Marijuana use among youth in states that legalized rose consistently since 2004, staying higher than in states where it’s illegal.
In the Alabama Senate race, Roll Call reports recent internal polling puts Moore in the lead with 27 percent, Strange at 23 percent and Brooks at 21 percent.
If no candidate reaches 50 percent plus one in the Aug. 15 special primary, the top two vote-getters will face a runoff Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.
Moore’s appearance can be heard here: