The US Conference of Mayors passed a resolution urging President Joe Biden to legalize cannabis at the federal level, expunge marijuana-related convictions and permit retail sales with social equity provisions in place.
The association, composed of city mayors across the US, voted in favor of the resolution at its 89th annual meeting.
In a text accompanying the resolution, the group notes the legal marijuana industry “is likely to become a global multi-trillion dollar industry, with early U.S. sales already generating billions of dollars,” yet federal action on the reform has been limited. This comes, the text continues, despite the federal government’s ownership of a patent recognizing marijuana’s medical value and the clear racially disparate impacts of cannabis law enforcement.
The mayors go on to credit state-level efforts to promote social equity in the legal cannabis industry, but that these have nonetheless so far “failed to create equitable market participation and leverage the benefits of diversity.”
The mayors’ organization states that “the government is accountable for remediating all negative impacts of cannabis prohibition through every aspect of cannabis legalization and policy reform, specifically to ensure that communities disproportionately impacted by the prohibition of cannabis are able to benefit from this multi-billion dollar industry.”
The mayors then urge Congress and Biden’s administration to “remove cannabis, specifically delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9 THC) and its derivatives, from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of controlled substances, to end criminal penalties for cannabis possession and use, and to automatically expunge all past cannabis convictions, including resentencing and restoring all rights, particularly voting rights.”
To recognize marijuana’s health value, the mayors call on lawmakers and officials to “create and update all public policies to reflect that cannabis is medicine and an effective treatment for a variety of health conditions,” while “amending policies to specifically protect cannabis patients from THC-based drug screening for access to employment and public resources such as housing, financial assistance, health care and education.”
“The United States Conference of Mayors calls on Congress and President Biden to legalize cannabis commercialization and sales for adults, 21 or older, through an equity-centered framework of fair taxation, diverse licensing types, and regulation that clearly and consistently ensures for a safe, accessible, equitable and sustainable cannabis marketplace,” the mayors’ resolution concludes.
The group finishes by highlighting recent efforts in the Senate to pass a bill that would federally deschedule cannabis and tax retail sales of the plant as one possible approach toward achieving their aims.
The US Conference of Mayors counts 1,400 mayors of cities with populations greater than 30,000 among its members. The adopted resolution in favor of comprehensive federal cannabis reform was approved largely without objection – just three mayors voted against the motion.
During the group’s 2018 meeting, it passed another resolution urging the federal government to deschedule cannabis and for officials in legal states to expedite expungements of marijuana-related convictions.
A 2018 survey of US mayors revealed a majority were in favor of permitting legal sales of cannabis in their jurisdiction.
Other associations representing state and local levels of government have also come out in support of various cannabis reform measures in recent years, including the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.