Let States Legalize Marijuana, US Conference of Mayors Tells Feds

It has been seven
and a half months since residents of Colorado and Washington voted
to legalize marijuana, and so far the Obama administration has not
responded in any substantive way, although Attorney General Eric
Holder keeps
promising
a policy statement “soon.” Yesterday the U.S.
Conference of Mayors, meeting in Las Vegas,
weighed in
on the side of federalism, unanimously endorsing a
resolution
declaring that “states and localities should be able to set
whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety
and health of their communities.” Accordingly, the mayors say
“federal laws, including the Controlled Substance Act, should be
amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana
policies without federal interference.” Until that can be
accomplished, the mayors urge President Obama 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 Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of
2013, introduced
by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) in April,  would take the
decision away from Obama administration by barring federal
prosecution of people who grow, possess, transport, or sell
marijuana in compliance with state laws. 

The mayors’ resolution also directly criticizes marijuana
prohibition as “costly and ineffective,” saying it enriches violent
criminals, results in racially disproportionate arrests,
and diverts resources from “programs that more effectively
serve the public and keep our cities safe from serious and violent
crime.” It suggests that decriminalization can allow states to
“more effectively and responsibly control marijuana use and sales
among adults in their jurisdictions in a way that reduces costs and
crime and improves public health and safety.” And it notes that
polls indicate most Americans,
including opponents
of legalization, believe the federal
government should not try to stop states from making that policy
choice. In a similar expression of deference to state voters’
choices, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who
opposed
 Washington’s legalization initiative in November,
last week joined other members of her state’s congressional
delegation in signing a letter urging
Holder to leave state-legal marijuana businesses
unmolested.