Mayors Unite To Press For Federal Marijuana Reform

Photo Credit: Joe Rondone

The Denver and Thornton mayors have joined a new coalition of U.S. city leaders that will lobby Congress and the Trump administration to increase local control over marijuana policy.

Announced during the weekend meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston, the group’s formation is the latest effort by state and local political leaders to safeguard varying levels of marijuana legalization from potential federal interference.

The Government for Responsible U.S. Cannabis Policy Coalition — formed by Denver’s Michael Hancock, Thornton’s Heidi Williams and several other mayors — also aims to provide better access to the banking system for businesses in the legal marijuana industry by changing certain federal rules. Those include descheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Last week, U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, announced a similar effort — a joint bill that would force the U.S. government, which still considers marijuana an illegal drug, to respect state laws on marijuana.

President Donald Trump said Friday that he “probably” would support the Gardner/Warren bill, but first it has to win approval from Congress.

“With 46 states having some form of legalization, the reality is legal marijuana is coming to a city near you,” Hancock said in an announcement of the new mayors coalition. “As mayors of cities that have successfully implemented and managed this new industry, we have hands-on experience that can help Congress take the right steps to support other local governments as they prepare to enter this new frontier.”

Hancock said that in the uncertain legal climate surrounding marijuana, cities in places that have legalized it “need federal solutions so implementation can be done smoothly, safely and effectively.”

The other mayors who have committed to lobbying for federal policy reform are from San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland and Portland.

The mayors of Los Angeles, West Sacramento and Las Vegas joined as sponsors of a coalition-backed resolution that won approved Monday as the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ meeting wrapped up.