Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.
According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.
The Marijuana Policy Project is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.
The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”
The “Consume Responsibly” campaign made national headlines when it launched in September with a billboard that alluded to columnist Maureen Dowd’s infamous marijuana edibles experience and urged adults to exercise caution when consuming them.
“Now that states are taking a smarter approach to marijuana policy, it’s time for a smarter approach to marijuana education,” said MPP’s Mason Tvert. “Issues such as over-consumption and accidental ingestion are not unique to marijuana, and a lot can be learned from how we handle other legal products. These problems can be addressed by raising awareness and informing adults about steps that should be taken to prevent them.”
According to the executive director of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov:
“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing convention.”
Apparently, he has a point; by allowing legal marijuana sales within its borders, the U.S. is technically in violation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The major UN convention, which was signed by the U.S., prohibits countries from creating regulated markets for the cultivation, sale, purchase, distribution, and possession of marijuana.
Historically, the U.S. has pressured other countries in the convention to adopt measures that enforced American-style prohibition, which has led some to criticize the federal government for being hypocritical by allowing implementation of state marijuana regulations to proceed.
According to Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project:
“The United States has largely dictated international drug laws for decades, and now that it’s becoming clear that Americans will no longer stand with these failed drug policies, we see other countries moving ahead as well.”
“Fedotov’s statements may make it awkward for the federal government, but they won’t stop the momentum toward ending marijuana prohibition.”
However, the 2013 marijuana-related arrest numbers are down from 2012. The Uniform Crime Report from last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.
Marijuana policy reform groups are glad to see that the arrest rates associated with marijuana offenses have fallen since 2012, but continuing to arrest people for the simple possession of marijuana should be seen as unacceptable and a call for further reforms.
According to Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:
“We’re pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable.”
“Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana. Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved – or prevented – if police weren’t wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.”