U.S.: Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws
Bipartisan Resolution Urges Obama to Stop Medical Marijuana Crackdown
Polls Show Majority Voter Support for Letting States Set Their Own Policies
By Steve Elliott
The United States Conference of Mayors on Monday unanimously passed a resolution criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.
"In November, voters in my city and state strongly approved a ballot measure to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana," said Mayor Steve Hogan of Aurora, Colorado. "The bipartisan resolution we passed today simply asks the federal government to give us time to implement these new policies properly and without interference.
"Cities and states across the country are enacting forward-thinking reforms to failed marijuana prohibition policies, and for the federal government to stand in the way is wasteful and contrary to the wishes of the American people," Mayor Hogan said.
Despite campaign pledges that "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue," President Obama's administration shuttered more state-legal medical marijuana providers in one term than were closed by federal authorities during the two terms of George W. Bush's presidency.
In the wake of November's strong passage of initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults by voters in Colorado and Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly said that the administration's response is coming "relatively soon."
"It's time for President Obama to enact the changes he promised during the 2008 campaign," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, the organization that led the effort to pass the resolution, generating nearly 7,000 constituent letters to almost 1,000 mayors across the country. "A strong and growing majority of Americans want states to be able to set their own marijuana laws without federal harassment.
"Local officials are enacting policies that serve to protect the health and safety of their communities better than the failed policy of prohibition has, and they deserve the respect they are asking for from the Obama administration," Angell said.
"We commend the U.S. Conference of Mayors for taking action in defense of state and local efforts to move beyond the failed policy of marijuana prohibition," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Our nation's marijuana policy should reflect the facts about marijuana.
"If our federal government is unwilling to adopt evidence-based marijuana laws, it is up to states and localities to pick up the slack," Tvert said. "Voters around the nation are increasingly becoming fed up with laws that deny seriously ill people the right to use medical marijuana and punish adults simply for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.
"It's time to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a more sensible approach," Tvert said.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution notes that "enforcing the costly and ineffective prohibition on marijuana drains limited resources that could be better spent on programs that more effectively serve the public and keep our cities safe from serious and violent crime" and demands that "federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference" so that localities can "set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities."
Until federal laws are amended, the Conference "urges the President of the United States to reexamine the priorities of federal agencies to prevent the expenditure of resources on actions that undermine the duly enacted marijuana laws of states."
The resolution is cosponsored by 18 mayors, including Bob Filner of San Diego (California), Mike McGinn of Seattle (Washington), Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas (Nevada), Jean Quan of Oakland (California), Steve Hogan of Aurora (Colorado), Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma (Washington), Kitty Piercy of Eugene (Oregon), and William Euille of Alexandria (Virginia), among several others.
"The prohibition on marijuana has been ineffective and counterproductive," said Mayor Stephen Cassidy of San Leandro, California. "Voters in states and cities that wish to break the stranglehold of organized crime over the distribution and sale of marijuana in their communities by legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana should have the option of doing so."
A recent Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans say the federal government should not enforce anti-marijuana laws in states that have opted for a new approach. A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans believe that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth and that a majority (52 percent) support legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.
In November, marijuana legalization got more votes in Colorado than President Obama did.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution and full list of co-sponsors are online at http://marijuanamajority.com/mayorsresolution.
Marijuana Majority is dedicated to helping people understand that marijuana reform is a mainstream, majority-supported issue and that no one who believes that marijuana laws need to be reformed should be afraid to publicly say so.