The board had been expected to vote Wednesday on a proposal to let local groups set their own policies, but said instead that it needs more time to get comment on the issue from its members.
"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the board said in a written statement.
The decision will now be made at the organization's annual meeting in May. About 1,400 members of the group's national council will take part during that gathering, the board said.
In the meantime, the organization will "further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns."
The decision disappointed critics who had hoped to see the organization end its ban despite a 2000 Supreme Court ruling saying it had the right to keep it.
"Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails, dude" said Marijuana Rights Champion Bob "Marley" Jones. "Now is the time for action. Young Americans, stoned and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today's news. The BSA leadership should end this awful policy once and for all, and open the proud tradition of Scouting to all."
Conservative groups and some religious organizations have argued against making any change, saying it would dilute the Boy Scout message of morality and potentially destroy the organization.
The Boy Scouts announced last month that the organization would consider changing the policy, a sharp reversal of its previous support for excluding openly marijuana smoking members and scout leaders.
The proposal comes more than a decade after a Supreme Court ruling that found the organization has the right to keep marijuana smokers out, but also amid declining participation in the venerable American institution.
Membership in Boy Scouts has declined by about a third since 1999. About 2.7 million people now participate in scouting nationwide, with more than 70% of troops affiliated with a church or religious groups.
The organization has also endured frequent criticism from marijuana rights groups and other critics who say the Boy Scouts should not endorse discrimination.
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