Friday marked the day that two congressmen, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.Ore.) introduced two bills that would essentially legalize, regulate and tax marijuana at the federal level and thus ending the U.S. government’s prohibition of the plant.
Rep. Polis introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which looks to take marijuana off of the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, transfers oversight of the substance from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and regulates marijuana in the same ways that alcohol and tobacco is currently regulated. Furthermore, Rep. Blumenauer introduced his own Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, which would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana…there you have it…so simple right?
These bills would not make states legalize cannabis but would bring federal regulatory framework for those states who do decide to legalize it. In a statement on Friday, Rep. Polis stated, “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.”
Obviously at this point all states are subject to federal regulation even if marijuana is legal at the state level as it is in Colorado & Washington (soon to be in Alaska, Oregon, & Washington, D.C.). The popular vote across the US continues to support universal legalization or at least a looser regulatory control to those using the drug. In a recent Huffington post article, the editor cites Harvard economist Jeff Miron, a vocal supporter of marijuana policy reform, who highlighted the unique nature of state marijuana laws in an op-ed for CNN as to why Congress should “act now” on federal marijuana policy.
“Despite the compelling case for legalization, and progress toward legalization at the state level, ultimate success is not assured,” Miron wrote. “Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and existing jurisprudence (Gonzales v. Raich 2005) holds that federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana prohibition. So far, the federal government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to state medicalizations and legalizations, but in January 2017, the country will have a new president. That person could order the attorney general to enforce federal prohibition regardless of state law.”
Rep. Blumenauer called the federal prohibition of marijuana “a failure” that has wasted tax dollars and ruined lives, “As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” Blumenauer said, “it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”
So what’s your stance? Comments welcome…