Photo via U.S. Dept. of Education
Just days after a bipartisan coalition of 12 state governors sent a letter to Congress urging support for a new bill to protect states' rights to legalize pot, a coalition of mayors from canna-legal cities has drafted their own message asking lawmakers to enacting sweeping cannabis reform. The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted two measures this week to ask lawmakers to remove cannabis from the federal schedule of prohibited drugs, as well to call on local governments to expunge low-level cannabis offenses.
The first measure — sponsored by the mayors of Denver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and West Sacramento — asks Congress to completely remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The resolution also requests legislative guidance to protect both state-legal medical marijuana programs as well as financial institutions willing to serve the cannabis industry from federal interference. The mayors also demanded that veterans be allowed greater access to medical cannabis.
The second of these measures “calls on local governments, where marijuana has been legalized, to act, moving with urgency to vacate misdemeanor marijuana convictions for conduct that is now deemed legal” in order to right the wrongs of decades of racially “discriminatory enforcement” of cannabis prohibition, Marijuana Moment reports. “Vacating these convictions serves as evidence that the criminal justice system acknowledges the racial disproportionality of enforcement of drug laws and is willing to address that injustice.”
Both measures were adopted by the Conference’s Criminal and Social Justice Committee over the weekend, and then approved by the full organization on Monday.
“Cannabis prohibition has failed,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told the Associated Press. “It has failed to keep our children safe, it has failed law enforcement, and it has especially failed communities of color disproportionately targeted and prosecuted for low-level drug offenses. Eventually, legalization will come to every state — and we want to make sure it’s done so safely and effectively.”
Several of these mayors have taken a further step towards cannabis advocacy by establishing the Government for Responsible U.S. Cannabis Policy Coalition, which will create “a national framework to proactively prepare governments for implementation of legalized marijuana,” Marijuana Moment reports. “As mayors of cities that have successfully implemented and managed this new industry, we have hands-on experience that can help Congress take the right steps to support other local governments as they prepare to enter this new frontier,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock to the Associated Press. “We all face common challenges.”