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National League of Cities calls for federal marijuana reform: Report

November 14, 2018

The National League of Cities, an organization representing more than 19,000 municipalities across the country, has passed a pair of resolutions urging the federal government to reform the country’s existing marijuana laws.

National League of Cities members voted during the group’s annual conference over the weekend in support of resolutions calling on Congress and the Trump administration to tackle marijuana reform, a representative for the organization told Marijuana Moment, a news site that first reported the group’s plea Tuesday.

The first resolution urges the government to “resolve the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws” and “provide guidance to financial institutions that results in the cannabis market having access to the federally regulated banking system,” according to Marijuana Moment.

The second resolution, meanwhile, would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of Schedule 1 drugs while urging Congress to “pass legislation that would ensure states and local governments have the ability to establish laws and regulations on the manufacturing, distribution and sale of medical and adult-use cannabis within the state,” Marijuana Moment reported.

“This is the first time we’ve explicitly called for the federal rescheduling of marijuana,” Tom Martin, NLC’s director of communications, told the website. “For the past five years or so, we’ve been asking the federal government to resolve the conflict between state and federal laws in regards to the banking issue.”

Despite being legalized in most states for medicinal or recreational purposes, marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 narcotic under the U.S. Controlled Substance Act, or CSA, means that the Drug Enforcement Agency has determined that the plant has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. That classification effectively places marijuana in the category as heroin and makes it subject to the same strict federal rules and regulations.

According to the group’s first resolution, the federal government has “created a condition under which the cannabis industry has severely limited access to the federally-regulated banking industry, and this condition has led to a reliance on ‘cash only’ models that involve the transportation of large sums of paper money through cities, increase the risks of theft crimes and tax evasion and deny large groups of business owners the capital needed to enter the market.”

Rescheduling cannabis would “allow greater federal, state and local regulation of the industry to ensure the cannabis people are buying is not covered with mold, fungus, pesticides or other harmful substances,” the group argued, according to Marijuana Moment.

It would also “allow the federal, state and local governments to set rules and regulations that would restrict driving under the influence, set age restrictions on buyers and regulate the entire supply chain of cannabis, including growers, distributors, retailers and testing laboratories,” according to the report.

Thirty-three states and D.C. have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, including 10 that permit recreational, or non-medical, usage among adults.

Seven of 10 states to legalize recreational marijuana have passed laws allowing adults to purchase the plant from licensed retail dispensaries: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state.

The Department of Justice advised federal prosecutors during the Obama administration against pursuing marijuana cases in states that have legalized the plant, but President Trump’s former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rescinded that policy in January.

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