Reaction to U.S. Senate Marijuana Hearing

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on the federal-state divide over marijuana laws. The following is a statement from Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell:

“It’s about time our federal lawmakers took up this issue. Polls show that the majority of voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana, but far too many elected officials continue to act like this issue is still some dangerous third-rail of politics that’s too dangerous to touch. This is a serious, important and mainstream issue, and it’s good to see politicians finally treating it as such.

“As senators made clear today with important questions about legal marijuana providers’ access to banking, armored car services and tax write-offs that are available to any other business, the Obama administration’s recent memo to prosecutors is a good first step, but it will not remove all of the roadblocks that stand in the way of effective implementation of state marijuana laws. The next step is for Congress to amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it clear that America is moving in a new direction when it comes to marijuana policy.

“As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse pointed out today, the Obama administration has repeatedly shifted its marijuana policy since 2009, when it released a memo saying that medical marijuana providers operating in ‘clear and unambiguous compliance’ with state law would not be a focus for federal law enforcement. Since that time, though, this president has overseen the closure of more state-legal marijuana businesses in one term than were shuttered during two terms of the Bush administration. It remains to be seen whether prosecutors will follow through this time and finally help the president uphold his campaign pledge to respect state marijuana laws.

“One thing the the president could do right now to signal that he’s serious about this most recently announced shift in policy would be to use his commutation powers to release some of the medical marijuana prisoners that have been put behind bars by his federal agencies.”

Reaction to Federal Marijuana Policy Announcement

Today the U.S. Department of Justice finally announced the Obama administration’s response to the historic marijuana legalization measures that were approved by voters in Colorado and Washington State in November. The following is a statement from Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell:

“It’s nice to hear that the Obama administration doesn’t at this point intend to file a lawsuit to overturn the will of the voters in states that have opted to modernize their marijuana policies, but it remains to be seen how individual U.S. attorneys will interpret the new guidance and whether they will continue their efforts to close down marijuana businesses that are operating in accordance with state law.

“It’s significant that U.S. attorneys will no longer be able to use the size or profitability of a legal marijuana business to determine whether or not it should be a target for prosecution, but the guidelines seem to leave some leeway for the feds to continue making it hard for state-legal marijuana providers to do business.

“The administration’s statement that it doesn’t think busting individual users should be a priority remains meaningless, as it has never been a federal focus to go after people just for using small amounts of marijuana. The real question is whether the president will call off his federal agencies that have been on the attack and finally let legal marijuana businesses operate without harassment, or if he wants the DEA and prosecutors to keep intervening as they have throughout his presidency and thus continue forcing users to buy marijuana on the illegal market where much of the profits go to violent drug cartels and gangs.

“In all, today’s announcement represents a step in a right direction and a recognition by the administration that the politics of marijuana are rapidly shifting in favor of those who support legalization. However, my optimism is tempered by the fact that despite the Justice Department’s 2009 announcement that it shouldn’t be a priority to bust medical marijuana providers operating in accordance with state law, this administration went on to close down more state-legal marijuana businesses in one term than the Bush administration did in two terms.

“Polls from Pew and Gallup show that a supermajority of Americans wants the president to follow through on his 2008 pledges to respect marijuana laws, and that’s what advocates will continue pressing him to do.”

 

Reaction to Attorney General Eric Holder’s Drug Reform Proposals

Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder backed proposals to reduce America’s reliance on incarceration. In a speech to the American Bar Association, Holder endorsed Congressional legislation that would scale back mandatory minimum sentences, and sent guidance to U.S. attorneys directing them to refrain from subjecting people accused of low-level drug offenses to the most severe sentences.

The following is a statement from Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell:

“The attorney general’s remarks represent a good first step toward scaling back the failed ‘war on drugs.’ These proposals will allow some people charged with drug offenses to have opportunities to put their lives back together sooner and will save taxpayers some money that is now being wasted putting human beings in cages for no good reason whatsoever. However, the criminal justice system should not just have less of a role in the effort to address the medical problem of drug abuse, it should have no role.

“The real value of these proposals will be in the implementation, which drug policy reform advocates have good reason to be wary about. For example, despite a 2009 Justice Department memo urging U.S. attorneys not to go after marijuana businesses that are legal under state law, more state-legal medical marijuana providers were shuttered by federal actions during the first term of the Obama administration than were closed during George W. Bush’s two terms. And, we’re still waiting for the administration to announce its response to the marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, a policy that the attorney general has been saying is coming ‘relatively soon’ since December. If the administration is serious about using law enforcement resources in a smarter way, it should be a no-brainer to strongly direct federal prosecutors to respect the majority of voters by allowing these groundbreaking state laws to be implemented without interference.

“Clearly, drug policy reformers have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure that the administration’s deeds match its words, but today’s remarks by the attorney general give us a lot to work with.”

US Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2013
CONTACT: Tom Angell – info@marijuanamajority.com

U.S. Conference of Mayors Tells Feds to Respect Local Marijuana Laws

Bipartisan Resolution Urges Obama to Stop Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Polls Show Majority Voter Support for Letting States Set Their Own Policies

LAS VEGAS, NV — The United States Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution on Monday criticizing the failure of marijuana prohibition and urging the federal government to respect the ability of states and cities to implement policies like marijuana legalization and medical marijuana without interference.

“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. “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.”

Despite campaign pledges that “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” President Obama’s administration shuttered more state-legal medical marijuana providers in one term than were closed by federal authorities during the two terms of George W. Bush’s presidency. In the wake of November’s strong passage of initiatives to legalize and regulate marijuana for all adults by voters in Colorado and Washington, Attorney General Eric Holder has repeatedly said that the administration’s response is coming “relatively soon.”

“It’s time for President Obama to enact the changes he promised during the 2008 campaign,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, the organization that led the effort to pass the resolution, generating nearly 7,000 constituent letters to almost 1,000 mayors across the country. “A strong and growing majority of Americans want states to be able to set their own marijuana laws without federal harassment. Local officials are enacting policies that serve to protect the health and safety of their communities better than the failed policy of prohibition has, and they deserve the respect they are asking for from the Obama administration.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution notes 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” and demands that “federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana policies without federal interference” so that localities can “set whatever marijuana policies work best to improve the public safety and health of their communities.” Until federal laws are amended, the Conference “urges the President of the United States 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 resolution is co-sponsored by 18 mayors, including Bob Filner of San Diego (California), Mike McGinn of Seattle (Washington), Carolyn Goodman of Las Vegas (Nevada), Jean Quan of Oakland (California), Steve Hogan of Aurora (Colorado), Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma (Washington), Kitty Piercy of Eugene (Oregon), and William Euille of Alexandria (Virginia), among several others.

“The prohibition on marijuana has been ineffective and counterproductive,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy of San Leandro, California. “Voters in states and cities that wish to break the stranglehold of organized crime over the distribution and sale of marijuana in their communities by legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana should have the option of doing so.”

A recent Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans say the federal government should not enforce anti-marijuana laws in states that have opted for a new approach. A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Americans believe that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth and that a majority (52 percent) support legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. In November, marijuana legalization got more votes in Colorado than President Obama did.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution and full list of co-sponsors are online at http://marijuanamajority.com/mayorsresolution

Marijuana Majority is dedicated to helping people understand that marijuana reform is a mainstream, majority-supported issue and that no one who believes that marijuana laws need to be reformed should be afraid to publicly say so. More information is available at http://MarijuanaMajority.com

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Building on 2012′s Marijuana Victories

As an historic year for marijuana law reform comes to an end, I’m writing to ask you to help Marijuana Majority continue reshaping the debate in 2013.

Right now, our organization has no paid staffers and no office. We’re just a small group of activists trying to help more people realize that marijuana reform is a mainstream, majority-support issue and that no one who supports changing marijuana laws should be afraid to say so.

MarijuanaMajority.com was born on October 22. In just two short months, our message has resonated more than any I’ve seen in my ten years working in the marijuana reform movement. Tens of thousands of people like you have signed up to join the Marijuana Majority, hundreds of thousands have visited our website, and millions have seen our content on social media sites.

We need to continue to build on our momentum and educate millions more in 2013 about the sensibility of marijuana reform. Will you make a contribution to Marijuana Majority this holiday season and help pay our basic costs for 2013?

Contribute to Marijuana Majority today

As you know, the last couple months have been a whirlwind for the marijuana reform movement. And we’ve got a lot to be proud of.

On November 6, the debate surrounding this issue changed forever when Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana. Marijuana Majority’s message played an important role: During the week of the election our content was seen by more than 3.5 million people on Facebook alone!

Since that historic day, Marijuana Majority has been critical to continuing the momentum for meaningful reform. Mayors like Svante Myrick, police chiefs like Paul Whitesell, lieutenant governors like Gavin Newsom, and so many others have stated their support for legalization. Prominent people are speaking out more than ever before and, as a result, the political climate is shifting before our very eyes.

Now, will you take a moment to make a generous contribution to Marijuana Majority, and help us raise the money we need to continue our work over the next year?

With your help, we can keep highlighting the growing consensus around marijuana reform. We’ll keep adding every prominent new endorsement to our website, and continue to create beautiful content that you’ll be proud to share with your friends.

Plus, we’re planning several new, game-changing campaigns to grow the Marijuana Majority that we’ll be deploying in 2013.

For example, we’ll soon be asking supporters to urge their mayors to come out in support of changing marijuana laws. These local officials are influential figures who often haven’t needed to take a position on marijuana reform (since they don’t vote regularly like legislators) but who see the harms that prohibition causes in their cities and towns. They’re the ones who have to deal with how marijuana enforcement drains police budgets, and they’re the ones who get calls when SWAT raids go wrong.

As such, mayors are ripe targets to be new voices for our movement. All we need to do is help them understand that this is important to their constituents, and that they will enhance their public standing by showing their support. We’ll announce more details about this campaign soon…

For now, can you make a contribution to Marijuana Majority so we know we’ll have enough support to transform our ideas into reality next year? It’s only with your help that we can keep spreading our message and building the majority.

Thanks in advance!

Tom Angell
MarijuanaMajority.com
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