Opposition to the Legalization of Marijuana by States for “Recreational” Purposes

Adopted at the 120th Annual Conference

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 23, 2013


Opposition to the Legalization of Marijuana by States for “Recreational” Purposes

Submitted by:  Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Committee & the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police



WHEREAS, by passage of the Controlled Substances Act over forty years ago Congress made the judgment that marijuana is a schedule I controlled substance under the Act; and


WHEREAS, by its placement of marijuana within schedule I, Congress additionally has determined that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use of the substance under medical supervision; and


WHEREAS, the Food and Drug Administration has evaluated the scientific evidence repeatedly and has determined that marijuana has no safe and effective medical use, and therefore, marijuana must remain classified as a schedule I controlled substance; and


WHEREAS, Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for “recreational” use in November 2012; and  


WHEREAS, the Colorado and Washington marijuana legalization laws are in clear conflict with the Federal Controlled Substances Act and the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution; and


WHEREAS, the International Narcotics Control Board determined that the enactment by Colorado and Washington of marijuana legalization laws is in violation of international drug control treaties; and


WHEREAS, Colorado and Washington’s legalization of marijuana for “recreational” use, will be very harmful to the citizens of the states involved; and


WHEREAS, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), has  said that marijuana use distorts perceptions, impairs coordination, causes difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupts both learning and memory; and


WHEREAS, NIDA has observed that with respect to workers, marijuana smoking is related to increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers’ compensation claims, and job turnover; and


WHEREAS, NIDA has recognized that “research from different areas is converging on the fact that regular marijuana use by young people can have long-lasting negative impact on the structure and function of their brains.”  With respect to those who begin smoking marijuana heavily in their teens, a loss of up to 8 IQ points can be suffered and that this loss in IQ will not be reversed by marijuana smokers who quit as adults; and


WHEREAS, NIDA has concluded that, contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive; and


WHEREAS, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) wrote Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole on September 6, 2013 to express its extreme disappointment with the Justice Department’s decision not to enforce federal law as it relates to marijuana legalization.  In its letter, CADCA correctly observed that such a policy will have “dire social, economic, criminal justice and educational consequences, and will also endanger the welfare of youth in communities throughout the country;” and


WHEREAS, the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) II annual report released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in May 2013 revealed that for the arrestees surveyed in 2012, the drug used most and detected in testing continued to be marijuana ranging from 37% in Atlanta to over 50 % in Chicago, New York, and Sacramento; and


WHEREAS, a 2012 survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) concluded that many teens do not even consider marijuana use as a driving impairment.  More than 1/3 of teens who have driven after using marijuana say the drug presents no distraction to their driving; and


WHEREAS, rates of teen admissions to treatment for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse have increased by 188.1% between 1992 and 2006, compared with a 54.4% decline in rates of teen admissions for all other substances combined; and


WHEREAS, an isolated number of individuals associated with the law enforcement community have expressed support for marijuana legalization and regulation.  These individuals are sharing their personal views which do not reflect the experience or views of the law enforcement community as a whole.  The IACP unequivocally opposes this position, which ignores the empirical evidence and fails to address the very real concern that legalization does not eliminate the illegal trafficking of marijuana but encourages marijuana use and drives users to seek a cheaper product in the illicit market; and    


WHEREAS, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association,  and the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations' Coalition understand the devastating effects that marijuana continues to have on our communities, and along with the IACP, oppose legalization of marijuana; and   


WHEREAS, based upon the above, the empirical evidence demonstrates that marijuana is both detrimental to one’s health and is directly tied to crime; and


WHEREAS, continued, effective drug control requires coordination between Federal, state, local and tribal entities, as well as meaningful consultation with representatives of the recognized law enforcement organizations during the development of policies that will have a national impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement, drug control efforts; and    


WHEREAS, the IACP strongly opposes the Department of Justice’s policy decision to not take action against Colorado and Washington at this time.  The Department of Justice’s decision ignores the connection between marijuana and crime, enforcement problems created by trafficking marijuana across state, local and tribal borders, as well as the adverse economic and social costs that marijuana legalization will cause; and


WHEREAS, the Department of Justice’s unwillingness to challenge state marijuana legalization policies except under very narrow circumstances makes it infinitely more difficult for state, local and tribal law enforcement officers to keep their neighborhoods and communities safe from marijuana trafficking and its associated violence; and

the IACP memorialized its disagreement with the Department of Justice’s policy decision, and its concern that the DOJ did not meaningfully consult with it and its member organizations prior to formulation of the policy; and accordingly does not appreciate the detrimental impact that its policies will have on state, local and tribal law enforcement; and therefore, be it


RESOLVED, that the IACP duly assembled at its 120th Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2013, opposes the legalization of marijuana and urges the White House and Department of Justice to bring legal action to preempt the state marijuana legalization laws that conflict with federal law; and encourage federal prosecutors to enforce federal law concerning marijuana as Congress intended when it enacted the Controlled Substances Act.