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At the 86th Annual Meeting U.S. Conference of Mayors held June 8-11 in Boston, the nation’s mayors promulgated a resolution that calls on local governments to vacate marijuana convictions. The mayors also resolved that, in regards to the nation’s opioid crisis, “many individuals with substance use disorders who encounter the criminal justice system would be better served through local drug courts and offered appropriate treatment options.” In a third resolution, the nation’s mayors called for federal support of the legalization measures of states and cities.

Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, a member of the Government for Responsible U.S. Cannabis Policy Coalition, is a leader among the nation’s mayors in advocating for a responsible and safe implementation of legalization. Since the federal government, in particular, still does not recognize marijuana as anything but an unsafe drug with no medical use, the coalition has directly advocated for a change in the federal law.

In a prepared statement, Hancock said: “With forty-six states having some form of legalization, the reality is legal marijuana is coming to a city near you. 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. We all will face common challenges when it comes to legalizing marijuana, and those challenges need federal solutions so implementation can be done smoothly, safely and effectively.”

In the resolution titled “Urging Federal Support for State and Local Government Regulation of Cannabis,” the nation’s mayors urged for the following reforms:

  • Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and allow employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses.”
  • “Approving the McClintock-Polis amendment to annual federal appropriations legislation to safeguard state and local government marijuana reforms.”
  • “Extending safe and legal access to medicinal marijuana to U.S. military veterans.”
  • “Maintaining the Rohrabacher-Joyce-Blumenauer amendment, which protects states’ rights by prohibiting the federal government from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.”

Jenny A. Durkan, mayor of Seattle, was a leader at the conference in the effort to approve the resolution to vacate marijuana convictions. The resolution was approved unanimously by more than 200 mayors. In April, the city of Seattle filed a motion with its municipal court to vacate the convictions of 542 people who were convicted of marijuana possession between 1997 and 2010.

The resolution made at the conference of mayors points out that “88 percent” of the “8.2 million arrests” across the nation for marijuana were for simple possession, that “communities of color” suffered a grossly “disproportionate” number of these arrests, and that “a drug conviction, even for the misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana, can have significant negative consequences affecting a person’s employment opportunities, education options, qualification for government benefits and programs, travel, and immigration status.”

For these reasons, Durkan said that “Vacating charges for misdemeanor marijuana possession is a necessary step to correct the injustices of what was a failed War on Drugs.”

What do you think? Will the mayors of today become the national leaders of tomorrow? Leave a comment below.

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About the Author: Eric Howard

Eric Howard, who lives in Los Angeles, is a staff writer for Marijuana and the Law. His most recent book, Taliban Beach Party, appeared in 2017.

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