Marijuana advocates and political experts are calling the latest move by two House members the possible beginning of the end for the decades-long prohibition against the plant. According to an article in The Huffington Post, two congressmen have filed separate bills that if passed together, would essentially legalize, regulate and tax marijuana at the federal level.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would “remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, transfer oversight of the substance from the Drug Enforcement Administration over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and regulate marijuana in a way similar to how alcohol is currently regulated in the U.S.” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, which would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.
According to the article, the bills wouldn’t force states to legalize marijuana, but a federal regulatory framework would be in place for states that decide to legalize it.
Rep. Polis released a statement saying, “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.”
Blumenauer called the federal prohibition of marijuana “a failure” that has wasted tax dollars and ruined lives. He also feels it’s time for the government to forge a new path ahead for the plant, saying, “As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done, it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”
The sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana are all still illegal under federal law. The states that have legalized marijuana or softened penalties for possession have been able to it only because of “federal guidance urging prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations.”