Miscellany:Sense of the Senate Resolution on Removing Criminal Penalties for Possession of Marijuana

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Here is a sample resolution on cannabis that can be used in student government. It advocates decriminalization of the simple possession of small amounts of cannabis and applies the issue to the campus situation. The resolution was introduced in 2002 at George Mason University.[1][2][3]

Resolution text


1st Session

S. RES. 6

Sense of the Senate Resolution on Removing Criminal Penalties for Possession of Marijuana


14 November 2002

Mr. Larson introduces the following legislation:

WHEREAS, there have been more than 12 million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1970, including a record 734,498 arrests in 2000; and

WHEREAS, about 88% of these marijuana arrests were for possession -- not manufacture or distribution; and

WHEREAS, prisoners charged with or convicted of violating marijuana laws represent almost 12% of the total federal prison population and about 2.7% of the state prison population; and

WHEREAS, according to Department of Justice estimates, the war on marijuana consumers costs taxpayers more than $9 billion annually; and

WHEREAS, under Virginia law, marijuana offenses are punishable by fines, prison sentences, and, in the case of a felony conviction, permanent loss of the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People found that "the 'war on drugs' has caused a disturbingly disproportionate number of African Americans to be convicted of felony offenses"; and

WHEREAS, an estimated 13% of African American males are ineligible to vote under felony voter disenfranchisement laws; and

WHEREAS, under the Higher Education Act, a student who violates any marijuana statute may not receive federal student aid for two years, while a conviction for rape or manslaughter carries no such penalty; and

WHEREAS, under George Mason University housing policies, a student expelled from college housing for a drug law violation forfeits all rent payments made, while an expulsion for assault or vandalism carries no such penalty; and

WHEREAS, in Virginia, a person found guilty of any drug infraction faces a mandatory six-month driver's license suspension, regardless of whether the offense involved a motor vehicle; and

WHEREAS, the arbitrary criminalization of tens of millions of Americans who consume marijuana results in a large-scale lack of respect for the law and the entire criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, according to government-funded researchers, the perceived availability of marijuana among high school students has remained high and steady, despite decades of a nationwide drug war; and

WHEREAS, every comprehensive, objective government commission that has examined the marijuana phenomenon throughout the past 100 years has recommended that adults should not be criminalized for using marijuana; and

WHEREAS, eleven states — California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon — have reduced possession of marijuana from a crime carrying jail time to a civil violation, payable by a small fine;

WHEREAS, a government-sponsored study comparing states that have decriminalized marijuana to states where marijuana possession remains a crime found that "decriminalization has had virtually no effect either on the marijuana use or on related attitudes and beliefs about marijuana use among American young people? and

WHEREAS, decriminalization saves a tremendous amount in enforcement costs, California alone saving $100 million per year; and

WHEREAS, drug law reforms may improve the safety of all students, by re-directing law enforcement resources at stopping theft and violent crime; and

WHEREAS, George Mason University is severely underfunded and may benefit from state and federal savings resulting from decriminalization; and

WHEREAS, decriminalization represents a more fair, reasonable and humane alternative for all involved than continued arrest and incarceration; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the Student Senate of George Mason University, That the Senate finds and declares that the Virginia General Assembly should take action to eliminate all criminal penalties for possession of marijuana by a person aged eighteen or over; and

Be it further RESOLVED that copies of this resolution shall be transmitted to the Clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Clerk of the Virginia Senate, so that they may be apprised of the sense of the Student Senate of George Mason University on this matter.