Two Bills Could Legalize Marijuana at Federal Level

Washington, DC (TFC) – On Friday, February 20th, Representatves Jared Polis (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced two separate bills into Congress that will repeal the federal restriction on Marijuana.

Rep. Polis brought forward HR 1013, or The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.  If passed, this bill would prevent states from being subjected to federal penalties and dispensary raids, like those that have plagued California.

Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would allow federal taxation on top of any local or state taxes already in place.

Marijuana legalization has moved much faster than many may have expected.

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Map of the US showing US cannabis laws. Current as of August 2013.
State with legal medical cannabis.
State with decriminalized cannabis possession laws.*
State with both medical and decriminalization laws.
State with legalized cannabis.

Currently, 23 states, as well as Washington D.C.,  have legalized medical marijuana with varying levels of restriction.  Of those, 4 states (Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska) have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

If federal legalization passes, the Marijuana Tax Revenue would impose a federal excise tax of the sale of non-medicinal marijuana and an occupational tax for any businesses that sell marijuana.  Like tobacco, civil and criminal penalties would be enforced for those who fail to comply with regulation standards.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would also remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) schedule of controlled substances.  Rather, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) would regulate marijuana by adding it to the US Code that governs intoxicating liquors.

Colorado has seen so much profit from the sale of Marijuana that it exceeded the maximum amount of money allowed to be taken in under the state’s constitution.  Colorado has a 15% excise tax in place on marijuana.  In fact, citizens of Colorado are set to receive a portion of $30 million tax surplus.

Rep. Polis Comments on his proposal:  “Over the past year, Colorado has demonstrated that regulating marijuana like alcohol takes money away from criminals and cartels, grows our economy, and keeps marijuana out of the hands of children.  While President Obama and the Justice Department have allowed the will of voters in states like Colorado and 22 other jurisdictions to move forward, small business owners, medical marijuana patients, and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration, or this one, could reverse course and turn them into criminals.  It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Now that state governments have seen the tremendous amount of profit that legal marijuana will inevitably generate, these bills are a virtual certainty.  The DEA’s $2 billion budget will, hopefully, shrink.  America will actually have scored a victory in the “War on Drugs.”  Citizens will take back a portion of their dissolving civil rights.  However, it’s only a matter of time before “Corporate Weed” will take over.  Let’s enjoy the victory, but be smart about what we allow to pass in the future.