Blog Post

Nation's Mayors to Feds: Don't Tread on Local Marijuana Laws

Daniel Robelo

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously approved a resolution on Monday demanding that the federal government respect local marijuana laws – particularly in cities and states that decide to legalize medical or recreational marijuana use.

In their resolution, the nation’s mayors explain 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."

Because the impact of drug policies is felt most acutely at the local level, the resolution calls for cities and states to be able “to set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities," and urges that "federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act…be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference."

Adopted resolutions become the official policy of the USCM, which represents every city in the country with a population of over 30,000 and speaks with one voice to promote best practices for our nation's cities.  18 mayors co-sponsored the resolution, including Bob Filner of San Diego (California), Mike McGinn of Seattle (Washington), Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas (Nevada), Jean Quan of Oakland (California), Kitty Piercy of Eugene (Oregon), William Euille of Alexandria (Virginia) and many others.

"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 – one of the resolution’s co-sponsors. "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."
The resolution offers a sweeping criticism of the costs and consequences of marijuana prohibition, ranging from the overwhelming racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement to the creation of a vast and destructive criminal market for marijuana.  “Rates of marijuana sales and use are similar across racial and ethnic groups,” the resolution reads, “but people of color are arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated at higher rates and for longer periods of time.”

The mayors’ bold statement is another major step on the road to ending marijuana prohibition.  Although the federal government continues to cling futilely to its disastrous war on marijuana, the mayors’ resolution is the latest act of local rebellion against that war and all of its failures and injustices.  Roughly two-thirds of Americans support the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies, free from federal intrusion. Now their mayors agree, and they are demanding loudly that the federal government stop trying to force its failed prohibitionist policies on communities that have decided to chart a different course.