Report Recommends Four Steps Toward Ending the Marijuana Quagmire Obama Can Take Without Congressional Action
Urges Department of Justice to Enter Into ‘Section 873 Contracts’ With States to Assure Federal-State Cooperation
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Today, the Green Shadow Cabinet sent President Obama and others in the administration a report that recommends the federal government respect democracy and federalism by allowing implementation of laws that would regulate and tax marijuana in Washington and Colorado, as well as laws in 18 states and the District of Columbia that allow its medical use.
In a letter to President Obama, Jill Stein, MD the president of the Green Shadow Cabinet wrote: “More than 3 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, approximately 90 people per hour, since you became president,” and urged President Obama to follow the lead of voters writing “The people are providing you a path out of the marijuana war quagmire.” She also highlighted the racial unfairness of the marijuana laws saying “unfair enforcement practices exacerbate racial divisions at a time when the United States should be taking steps to heal these wounds and end racism.”
The 32 page report, “The Voters of Colorado and Washington Provide a Path to End the War-on-Marijuana Quagmire,” was prepared by the Justice Branch of the Green Shadow Cabinet reviews the extent of marijuana use, impact of arrest and incarceration, reports of national commissions, legal issues around federalism and makes four recommendations.
The Attorney General of the Green Shadow Cabinet, Kevin Zeese commented: “We specifically limited our recommendations to steps President Obama can take without congressional action. The centerpiece of our recommendations is the administration allow the state laws to take effect by entering into ‘Section 873 Contracts’ where they agree not to enforce federal marijuana laws so long as people act consistent with state laws and the states agree to prevent marijuana from going to state’s that have not reformed their laws. Section 873 of the Controlled Substances Act directs the attorney general to work with states in controlling drugs and specifically authorizes such agreements. Further, we recommend the rescheduling of marijuana to recognize its medical use and treat medical marijuana dispensaries authorized by state laws as other health care providers are treated.”
Cliff Thornton the director of Drug Policy for the Green Shadow Cabinet commented that “It is time for the federal government to begin to repair the damage done by the war on marijuana. Families and communities have been destroyed by this war centered on mass arrests and mass incarceration. The reality is, if states decide not to enforce the marijuana laws, the federal cannot do it on its own. The federal government needs to face reality – marijuana prohibition will end with them, or without them. Public health and safety will be better protected if federal and state governments work together.”
Attorney King Downing who Chairs the President’s Commission on Corrections Reform said “The current marijuana laws flip the scales of justice against people of color and are a form of social ‘fracking’ that sends young lives ‘up in smoke.’ While federal reports show drug use is equal between the races, 85% of those arrested are black and Latino and they are ten times as likely to be locked up. The unjust enforcement of drug laws adds to the economic destruction of black and Latino communities and contributes to the black-white wealth divide. Ending the marijuana war should be a first step to re-distribution of law enforcement out of minority communities and the execution of a plan to end racial disparity.”
Members of the Green Shadow Cabinet Health Council also expressed support for the change. Margaret Flowers, MD, Secretary of Health, said “the war on marijuana does more harm to people than the use of marijuana does. Multiple national commissions in the U.S. and around the world have put marijuana’s risks in perspective and have urged decriminalization. Regulation will reduce risks even further by ensuring quality control and potency labeling. The people in Washington and Colorado have voted for sensible health policy.”
Patch Adams, MD, commenting on the medical value of marijuana said: “The medical use of marijuana is ancient and well-documented. Illegality has inhibited research on this drug which is a better medication than many pharmaceutical drugs. The idea that someone can go to jail for marijuana is a mockery of justice.”