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Law, Justice, and Ethics: Resolution LJE-14-40

SUPPORTING STATES’ RIGHT TO DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA USE

WHEREAS, a number of states have decriminalized the use of marijuana for adults;

WHEREAS, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association, 18 states and the District of Columbia have already made medical marijuana legal and 10 other states are currently considering legislation to legalize medical marijuana for adults;

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Obama Administration have said the federal government will not sue to stop the states of Colorado and Washington from allowing recreational marijuana use;

WHEREAS, various members of Congress have called for changes to the Controlled Substances Act to allow states the ability to set their own laws related to marijuana;

WHEREAS, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows the majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, 52 percent to 45 percent, with 72 percent saying that the cost of federal law enforcement efforts are not worth it;

WHEREAS, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, there were over eight million marijuana arrests in the United States between 2001 and 2010, occurring in an upward trajectory with 140,000 more arrests in 2010 than 2001; in 2010, there were 300,000 more arrests for marijuana than arrests for all violent crimes combined; and nearly three quarters of a million people were arrested for marijuana violations in 2012, with 88 percent of drug arrests being for possession alone; and

WHEREAS, state and local governments could potentially stand to save billions of dollars that they currently spend regulating marijuana use by decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) recognizes the decision of the Administration to not challenge the choice made by citizens of these states, and urges the continued respect of state law, and encourages other states to consider decriminalization;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NBCSL supports the states’ authority to make a determination as to what age, at or above 18, qualifies as a “legal adult” who may purchase, possess, or consume marijuana;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NBCSL urges the federal government to reduce the penalties associated with the use and simple possession of marijuana, and increase counseling and other alternative punitive methods; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and other federal and state government officials as appropriate.

SPONSOR: Representative Larry Miller (TN)
Committee of Jurisdiction: Law, Justice, and Ethics Policy Committee
Certified by Committee Chair: Representative Brenda Gilmore (TN)
Ratified in Plenary Session: Ratification Date is December 13, 2013
Ratification is certified by: Representative Joe Armstrong (TN), President