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  • National Group Of State Legislators Tells Fed Gov’t To Reform Marijuana Laws And Leave States Alone

    The National Conference of State Legislatures has just passed a resolution demanding the federal government amend the Controlled Substances Act to let states treat marijuana as they see fit.

    The resolution reaffirms that the federal government cannot use its power to force states, the laboratories of democracy, to criminalize marijuana or hemp, as “doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.” Although the Department of Justice has stepped away from active marijuana prosecutions, federal policy listing marijuana as a Schedule I drug is still a major issue for states.

    Marijuana businesses have had difficulty securing bank accounts and deducting business expenses from taxes. This means an increased risk of robbery since businesses often have to keep cash on the premises. With federal prohibition still in place, states can’t easily collect revenue from marijuana sales.

    Lawmakers from across the United States met in Seattle for an NCSL conference this week to discuss and debate marijuana policy on the state-level, an issue which has become much more prominent in recent years, given legalization in four states and the District of Columbia, as well as a regime of medical marijuana blanketing the country. Almost half of all states allow medical marijuana. NCSL was initially established in 1975 to provide legislators with access to policy innovation and to facilitate communication with the federal government.

    Many of the lawmakers present for the NCSL conference noted that their states are considering initiatives aiming to legalize the drug. A common theme through the room was that as far as marijuana reform is concerned, there’s no going back.

    “I think the fact of the matter is there is too much momentum … to really shut anything down significantly,” said Denver House Speaker Pro Tempore Dan Pabon, according to The Denver Post.

    Still, although many don’t believe the experiment can be ended completely, some legislators think that states can fight back against public consumption of the drug. Earlier this year, Washington banned pot clubs, though one legislator at the meeting, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle, argued that prohibiting clubs would result in unintended consequences.

    “These state lawmakers are demanding that the federal government stop impeding their ability to set and carry out marijuana laws that work best for their own communities, and Congress should listen,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans want the feds to get out of the way, and national politicians would do well to take note of what their constituents are saying.”

    Lt. Commander Diane Goldstein (Ret.), a representative of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who attended the conference, noted that the “The overwhelming support for this resolution shows clear bipartisan support for states’ right to create their own drug policies.”

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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