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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nonpartisan Group Supports A States' Rights Position on Marijuana

While marijuana and all its derivatives have remained illegal under federal law, it has not deterred a number of states to pass legislation for the legalization of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana use. On top of that, in recent years the presidential administration has urged federal agencies to interfere as minimally as possible with state programs - with the exception of preventing access to minors and interstate drug smuggling.

In 23 states and the District of Columbia, medical marijuana laws have been passed by voters; another four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) have voted and passed recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. As the country inches closer to the polls next year, it is expected that more states will vote and pass similar legislation.

Not surprisingly, there are many who remain skeptical about the future of what has long been a highly contested drug; but, it seems that with each year that goes by, bipartisan support for state marijuana programs continues to grow. Last week, the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan national group representing state legislatures, called upon Congress to overhaul federal drug laws, according to U.S. News & World Report, allowing individual states to establish their own policies for marijuana and hemp.

“I think there’s every indication that a sea change is taking place in the country,” said New Hampshire State Representative Renny Cushing, who sponsored the measure. “People are realizing it’s the end of prohibition, the parallels are very similar to what happened when the U.S. realized the prohibition of alcohol was a failed public policy.”

In a voice vote, the nonpartisan group approved a policy statement supporting a states’ rights position on state marijuana laws. The resolution reads:

“...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.”

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