From Darkness To Light

11 Feb 2013

Support this bill in Congress: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, Jared Polis (D-CO)

Posted by Adam Howell

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CRMLA Logo sunup final 2048Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act last week in an attempt to respect and legitimize the will of voters in states that have passed medical marijuana laws or decriminalized it for recreational use.

Congressman Jared Polis, (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act last week.

Congressman Jared Polis, (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act last week.

Polis’ bill would remove the Drug Enforcement Agency’s authority over marijuana and would allow each state to decide whether to allow marijuana production or consumption within its borders. It would also further solidify Colorado’s precedent of regulating marijuana like alcohol.

Specifically, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act:

  • Removes marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Requires commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, as commercial alcohol producers do as well;
  • Ensures that federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and individuals who are involved in commercial sale and distribution; and,
  • Reassigns jurisdiction of marijuana regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the newly-renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Explosives.

“This legislation doesn’t force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the 18 other jurisdictions that have chosen to allow marijuana for medical or recreational use deserve the certainty of knowing that federal agents won’t raid state-legal businesses,” said Polis, in a press release. “Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war.”

Without giving specifics in the press release, Polis said that the federal government would continue to work with states to prevent marijuana from crossing borders into a state or territory where it remained illegal.

Polis could not be reached to comment for this story.

For those in support of this historic and unprecedented piece of legislation, please take the time to ask your representative to become one of the co sponsors. Public support is gaining momentum, and your representative needs to know that his or her constituents are behind this bill.

On the same day that Polis’ de-federalizing legislation was introduced, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Tax Equity Act as a means of creating a framework for the federal taxation of cannabis. It would create a federal excise tax on marijuana, which is basically a tax on product sales between the producer and the processor or retailer.

The Marijuana Tax Equity Act would create the following framework:

  • This bill imposes a 50 percent excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, which is usually the processor or the retailer;
  • Similar to the rules with alcohol and tobacco tax provisions, and occupational tax will be imposed on those operating in marijuana, with producers, importers and manufacturers facing an occupation tax of $1,000/a year and any other person engaged in the business facing an annual tax of $500/a year;
  • Civil penalties will be imposed for failure to comply with taxing duties. Criminal penalties will be assessed for intentional efforts to defraud the taxing authorities; and,
  • The bill also requires the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that, and to issue recommendations to Congress to continue improving the administration of the tax.

Congressman Blumenauer did not return this blogger’s email or phone call by deadline on Monday, but he did leave a quote about his legislation on a press release.

“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Blumenauer, in a press release. “Public attitude, state law, and established practices are all creating irreconcilable difficulties for public officials at every level of government. We want the federal government to be a responsible partner with the rest of the universe of marijuana interests while we address what federal policy should be regarding drug taxation, classification, and legality.”

Both congressman Blumenauer and Polis have also co-authored a new report entitled, “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy,” which reviews the history of marijuana prohibition in the U.S., current conflicts between state and federal law, and outlines several opportunities to reform and clarify marijuana at the federal level.


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