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NCSL tells feds to butt out of state pot laws

Thursday, Aug 6, 2015

* From a press release…

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution Thursday urging the federal government to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. For a resolution to pass, it must be supported by a majority of participating legislators in each of 75% of the states represented at the conference’s general business meeting.

The preamble to the resolution, introduced by New Hampshire State Rep. Renny Cushing, notes that “states are increasingly serving as laboratories for democracy by adopting a variety of policies regarding marijuana and hemp,” and it highlights the fact that “the federal government cannot force a state to criminalize cultivating, possessing, or distributing marijuana or hemp — whether for medical, recreational, industrial, or other uses — because doing so would constitute unconstitutional commandeering.”

The resolution states:

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act, should be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference and urges the administration not to undermine state marijuana and hemp policies.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Conference of State Legislatures recognizes that its members have differing views on how to treat marijuana and hemp in their states and believes that states and localities should be able to set whatever marijuana and hemp policies work best to improve the public safety, health, and economic development of their communities.

The full resolution can be found online at

“State lawmakers just sent a message to Congress that could not be any clearer,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, which tracks marijuana policy in all 50 states and lobbies in state legislatures throughout the country. “It’s time to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and let the states decide what policies work best for them.

“A majority of Americans support making marijuana legal for adults and even more think states should be able to establish their own marijuana laws without federal intrusion,” O’Keefe said. “This resolution is a strong indication that legislators throughout the nation are not just hearing from but listening to their constituents when it comes to marijuana policy.”

Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have adopted laws that allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it, and four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — have adopted laws that make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. Marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales are illegal under federal law, but the Department of Justice has indicated that it will not allocate resources toward enforcing federal marijuana laws in cases involving individuals or businesses that are acting in compliance with state laws.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Tournaround Agenda - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 1:57 pm:

    Yep. Light ‘em up.

  2. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 2:00 pm:

    Perhaps the NCSL convention attendees were doing more than holding educational sessions in Seattle. Were the dinner desserts brownies?

  3. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 2:01 pm:

    P.S. They’re coming to Chicago next year. Will we have a budget by then?

  4. - Colin O'Scopey - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 2:04 pm:

    Dave? Dave’s not here, man.

  5. - Bob Lafollette - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    Its easy to make jokes about Marijuana reform, but the truth is that there are people who are in jail and/or subjected to crippling fines because this commodity is illegal. That is a scandal.

    Marijuana prohibition is asinine from a public health and a public policy perspective. It seems like everybody knows this but no one wants to change anything.

  6. - phocion - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 2:23 pm:

    Good for the NCSL. Odd how some of the state’s rights tea partiers want the federal government to step on state laws when it suits them. Let states decide whether to legalize pot. The federal “reefer madness” experiment has been a disaster.

  7. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:03 pm:

    It really is a shame that Illinois’ medical cannabis legislation has been a complete failure with its paranoid, overly regulated, bureaucratic nonsense. Only 2,800 patients are signed up now and not a single one has gotten any relief yet.

    As it stands now, the multi-millionaires who were given the monopoly to profit off of the sick are not going to be able to recoup the gigantic licenses and fees they paid, let alone their start-up and operations costs.

    At the very least, the General Assembly should make up for their failure by immediately passing legislation to allow patients and caregivers to grow their own. Very few of the poor patients are going to be able to afford to purchase cannabis at the prices the producers will need to charge to pay for the state licenses and fees.

    Sorry Lou Lang and supporters, the thought was nice, but the implementation and execution of the program is a complete failure, as many predicted at the time it was passed. Start over and try again without all the regulatory overkill.

  8. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:04 pm:

    === the multi-millionaires who were given the monopoly to profit off of the sick are not going to be able to recoup the gigantic licenses and fees===

    Good. They all have powerful lobsters who will then push for full legalization.

    Only half snark.

  9. - Homer J. Quinn - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    still waiting for that signature on HB218…

  10. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:10 pm:

    Good on NCSL, but I suspect Congress is not too far behind, with some Republicans leading the way, and good on them.

    Legalized weed is going to be like gay marriage — suddenly, and with a lot of head-scratching as to what the fuss was all about afterwards.

    Like gay marriage, on weed, the politicians are way behind the people.

    Obama left that loony reefer-madness DEA chief in charge for his entire tenure until a few months ago, and she seized billions in private property and ruined thousands of lives, while DEA agents were partying with Cartel hookers in Cartegna and Medellin.

    Failure in ending the lunacy of the War on Drugs, Mr. President.

  11. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:29 pm:

    Rich, be careful what you wish for. The world is a much better place with craft beers able to coexist in the same market as the Budweiser and Coors giant conglomerates.

    They will be lobbying for crony capitalist legalization where they have the monopoly on recreational cannabis and personal or small grows are still outlawed. Exactly like the legalization referendum being pushed in Ohio right now.

    That is certainly a vast improvement on our current prohibition policies, but we can still do better than that.

  12. - Amalia - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 4:00 pm:

    Follow the money.

  13. - Just a lawyer - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    I find it interesting that when it comes to Marijuana, federal law (the Controlled Substances Act) does not matter and does not control. But when it comes to other Federal law (abortion, voter ID, and gay marriage) suddenly federal not only matters, but controls. Funny how liberals can just pick and choose which laws they can enforce and which they can ignore.

  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 4:22 pm:

    ===abortion, voter ID, and gay marriage===

    All Supreme Court rulings.

    Are you that dense?

  15. - Federalist - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 4:58 pm:

    Another issue that under our U.S. Constitution that should be left to states under the 10th Amendment (unless it crosses state line).

    I have mentioned this on a number of other issues but usually get derided when I mention the 10th Amendment.

    By the way, this federal push on drugs was not done until the Nixon administration.

  16. - Striketoo - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 4:59 pm:

    “- Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 3:04 pm:

    === the multi-millionaires who were given the monopoly to profit off of the sick are not going to be able to recoup the gigantic licenses and fees===

    Good. They all have powerful lobsters who will then push for full legalization.

    Only half snark.”

    We are completely on the same wave length.

  17. - Excessively Rabid - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 5:16 pm:

    Will Illinois just please go ahead and legalize industrial hemp? That is a really stupid ban.

  18. - Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 5:24 pm:

    Regulate. Tax. Enjoy!

  19. - Truthines - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 6:46 pm:

    Cannabis prohibition laws were based on racism, and funding by the paper industry. There’s no reason for the Harrison Act to exist, and it should have been repealed 50 years ago.

    Please, get this done so our children don’t have to do it for us.

  20. - Honest abe - Thursday, Aug 6, 15 @ 8:42 pm:

    You or should I say they are never going to stop people from using pot NEVER. I don’t care how many laws they write to try and stop it. People have been using pot for over what 75 years or more. The cartels will always find a way to get it here and they will always find someone to sell it. Now is the time for a different approach. Take the money they would have spent on trying to fight it and build treatment centers to help those who want tomhelpmtemselves get clean no matter what drug they are on. You not only employee people but, you can help others get clean and live a better life. Come on think outside the box for once.

  21. - vole - Friday, Aug 7, 15 @ 4:51 am:

    It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure the number of licenses issued for cultivating and distributing medical marijuana and the small number of permits issued for marijuana patients is vastly out of whack — the potential supply will greatly exceed the demand to date. One or two of the grow sites would currently meet the piddly portion of permitted patients. The only way this will work out, meeting the expectations for local jobs and taxes the legislation has generated, would be for full legalization to occur. So, lets get on with it and stop being ridiculous about it. Develop the legal hierarchy that provides a market for the conscientious customer who desires not to contribute to drug cartel murders and mayhem in Mexico and the streets of Chicago. And who wishes to circulate money in legal channels that add rather than subtract from the integrity of local communities.

  22. - Honest Abe - Friday, Aug 7, 15 @ 7:47 am:

    Vole, you are spot on, plus lets do some more research on the medical side. How can pot be any worse then some of the other drugs they have out there. The time as come for these old politicians to move aside because what they have been doing is not working.

  23. - Homer J. Quinn - Friday, Aug 7, 15 @ 8:50 am:

    honest abe: “People have been using pot for over what 75 years or more.”

    more like over 5,000 years.

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