Marijuana Legalization-should be our choice

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Problem
I'm writing to urge your support of The Marijuana Justice Act, S. 1689 and HR 4815, which is now pending in both chambers of Congress.

The bill would (1) remove marijuana from the US Controlled Substances Act, thereby ending the federal criminalization of cannabis; (2) incentivize states to mitigate existing and ongoing racial disparities in state-level marijuana arrests; (3) expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession; (4) allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana-related violations to petition the court for resentencing; (5) and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.

Thirty-one states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2017 Quinnipiac University poll, 59 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 71 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.
To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant's medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color. Despite 80 years of federal marijuana prohibition, Americans' consumption of and demand for cannabis is here to stay. It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality.

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that all “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” leading former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis to famously opine, “[A] state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Today, voters are increasingly demanding regulatory alternatives to marijuana criminalization, and states are moving ahead with these policies. They should be free to do so without federal interference or fear of prosecution.

It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and to allow state governments the opportunity to pursue alternative regulatory policies.

I urge you to support The Marijuana Justice Act, S. 1689 and HR 4815.

Solution
As your constituent, I urge you to support and cosponsor the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, S. 3174, which removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and provides funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.

Passage of this legislation is necessary to resolve the existing and ever-growing state/federal divide over marijuana policy. Thirty-one states regulate medical marijuana use and nine states regulate the plant’s use, production, and sale for all adults.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters -- including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents -- “support the legalization of marijuana,” and 73% support expunging the records of those previously convicted of marijuana-related offenses. according to 2018 nationwide polling data.

Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is supported by voters and comports with the changing legal, cultural, and political status of marijuana and those who consume it responsibly. I urge you to support and cosponsor this legislation.