Everything You Wanted to Know About the New Federal Marijuana Legalization Measures

Today, Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer introduced two legislative measures that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and permit for the regulated production and retail sales of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption.

Representative Polis’ legislation, The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, transfer the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, require commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, and ensure federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.

Speaking on the bill, Rep. Polis stated, “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. Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war.”

Representative Blumenauer’s legislation is aimed at creating a federal tax structure which would allow for the federal government to collect excise taxes on marijuana sales and businesses in states that have legalized its use. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor. These regulations are similar to those that now exist for alcohol and tobacco. The bill will also require 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.

“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “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.”

You can use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your elected officials and urge them to support these measures.

These two pieces of legislation are historic in their scope and forward looking nature and it is likely you have many unanswered questions. NORML has compiled the below FAQs to hopefully address many of these inquiries.


Q: Would this make marijuana legal everywhere?
A: No, but it would allow states who wish to pursue legalization to do so without federal incursion. Currently, the federal government claims that state laws which have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use are in conflict with federal law. It is under this claim that they raid medical marijuana dispensaries, arrest consumers, etc. If these measures were to pass, marijuana law would be the domain of the states. If a state choses to legalize and regulate its use, it can do so in the way it would any other product and the federal government would issue permits to commercial growers and sellers and collect tax revenue. If a state choses to retain marijuana prohibition, they may as well, and the federal government would assist in stopping flow of marijuana into the state’s borders, as transporting marijuana from a legalized state into one retaining prohibition would still be illegal under this legislation.

Q: What does this mean for scheduling?
A: Marijuana would be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and be listed under Title 27 of the US Code, alongside the provisions for intoxicating beverages.

Q: What does this mean for Washington and Colorado?
A: Colorado and Washington would be empowered to continue moving forward with implementing their marijuana legalization laws and no longer have to worry about federal intervention. Once cultivators and retailers were operational in those states, Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would allow the federal government to collect excise tax from those commercial entities and issue them permits.

Q: What happens to the DEA?
A: The DEA would no longer oversee marijuana law enforcement in this country. Control of marijuana enforcement would move to the newly named Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Firearms and the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau.

Q: What about home cultivation?
A: If you live in a state, like Colorado for example, that passes laws permitting citizens to grow for personal use you would be allowed to do so without running afoul of state or federal law. Federal permits and taxation apply to those engaged in commercial marijuana enterprises.

147 thoughts

  1. Wow! But will such realistic, common sense measures actually be allowed to come up for a vote? Still, what a dramatic shift to see such language in proposed legislation at the federal level. Thank you Colorado and Washington. The tipping point has been tipped, and sooner than many in the movement thought.

  2. how soon will we know what level of support this bill has or what objections there may be to it (if any) ?

  3. I didn’t see anything in the talking points here about removing the obstacle of international treaties.

    Unfortunately, world treaties are still an excuse, an impediment when it comes to cannabis, while the U.S. ignores others, as evidenced by manufacturing evidence to go to war and torture and other shit the U.S. does that violates international treaties and conventions.

    I read in the Huffington Post today their article entitled “Report: More Than 50 Nations Involved In Bush-Era Torture Program” which drives home my point about the U.S. ignoring international treaties, yet pulling this shit that they can’t legalize weed because of international treaties.

    So is the Congress going to un-ratify, remove cannabis, then re-ratify such treaties? Are they simply going to amend the ratification? What?

  4. This is better then nothing…even though it equates to nothing for states that haven’t legalized!

  5. I hope this does get passed and soon because it looks like neighboring states to Colorado (Nebraska,Kansas,Wyoming) are wanting us to pay for prosecuting their citizens that get caught with marijuana. The prohibs are really getting desperate.

  6. This is an outstanding approach to marijuana, and norml needs to get all of the various formal groups to coordinate efforts. This coordinated effort has to include grass roots reach out to congress and coordinated lobbying efforts, commercials. This will be a tough go, but using coordinated effort to lock in the 18 state’s reps and then identifying the others needed to get the message out. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  7. This is exactly why we need, but how many of you will call your congressman? It will fail if we dont get HUGE public response!

  8. Great news but will the Draconian Dinosaurs in Congress and pressure from the Pharmaceutical and Prison/Police State Industrial Complex continue keeping America in the stone age or will we move forward?

    Our current Congress is pathetic and useless so believing they will do anything productive or what’s best for America in my humble opinion is a stretch but we can always hope. Also it does begin the dialogue that’s positive.

  9. While I still feel this is a long shot, I am optimistic because of the semi-conservative nature of this bill. Democrats tend to favor legalization more than Republicans, but this should also appeal to Republicans because it is designed specifically to return decision making powers back to the next states. Anyone that says they favor a smaller federal government cannot possibly be opposed to this….without looking obviously hypocritical.

    I said several years ago that I believe by 2015 I’ll be back able to legally smoke pot. If you this passes it’ll keep us right on track.

  10. “A: Marijuana would be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and be listed under Title 27 of the US Code, alongside the provisions for intoxicating beverages.”

    I support this, as I will any incremental improvement, but not without observing it is a half-way lie. The truth is heat shock, carbon monoxide, tars, PAH’s etc. are toxins but pure (vaporised, not smoked) cannabinoid vapor is not a toxin.

    If the new BATFM is concerned with regulating toxins, it should begin with a public education program to make everyone young and old aware that vaporization is different from “smoking”– and competent and equipped to vaporize instead of smoke.

    And this means, because a government service should be equally available to everyone, BATFM should provide counseling or coaching to assist $igarette addicts to switch to e-cigarette, and likewise to assist cannabis users to switch from hot burning overdose monoxide 500-mg “joint” to a long-stem, screened 25-mg-one-hitter (choomette, kiseru, midwakh, sebsi) and use the vape toke technique.

    Thus dosage regulation is built in to the equipment and procedure for both populations and the oft-mentioned harms and hazards eliminated.

  11. All I can say is that I am proud to live in Colorado; and that I love Jarid Polis. I had the honor to work at one of his first political dinners. At the time I had no idea how friendly he would become for marijuana; but looking back I think I got a chance to meet one of the greatest politicians in history to support marijuana law reform.

  12. I was shocked when my pain management doctor,
    Dr. Sebet, recommended I use marijuana for my pain. I had a bad accident at work and the pain medication he precribed “Celebrex” landed me in the hospital. With Liver & Kidney failure. I was in intensive care for several days.
    I am in my 60’s and had never taken Marijuana. But it does work. Not only does it work, it is a fraction of the cost of pain pills and it does not eat up my internal organs.

  13. If I am understanding this right (Marijuana would be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and be listed under Title 27 of the US Code, alongside the provisions for intoxicating beverages.) even though a state has not legalized, the criminal laws that are on the books would have a problem holding up in court. Removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act kind of does away with the state law to some degree.

  14. This is the time to strike if we can get this through a lot of states with no medical marijuana or recreational use laws will have it easier to get support and ultimately pass these laws. Plus a few states may defer to this as federal legalization and pass the laws just based on the premise that there will be no repercussions on the federal level. Now is the time to try for a big cut to the laws we have shaved away at them for years till now if this law can pass by 4/20 we can make a big rally to push for more states legalizing MMJ and recreational marijuana and if is still being debated push for it to go through. I see the war ending soon (1-3 years) if this goes through and if it doesn’t I still see an end in a decade. The boulder is rolling downhill now we dont have to push it up but if we all keep pushing we’ll reach the end faster there might still be a few rocks to slow us down or even stall us but if we all keep pushing together and at the right time we can push this boulder over the people trying to roll it back. The time and people are here we can reach the end of this long war soon as long as we keep working together.

  15. What about Florida with the strongest laws against it? Can We at least get Medical started here,so people will stop using the hard core drugs like doctors now prescribe?

  16. I stand with Jack Herer, so on that note, I would have to Vote No on this bill/law.

    It is an Herb. If someone grows it and makes product/s with it, they pay many taxes on equipment, gear, supplies, ect. then once a product is finished they have to collect sales tax on the product, regardless of whether it is a 3 bud salad, or HEMPCrete for a new home.

    [Editor’s note: Supporting the continued prohibition (and government abuse therein) of cannabis because you don’t like to pay taxes on goods and services is painfully shortsighted, self-centered and not realistic at all.

    You might want to keep using cannabis illegally to avoid taxes, however, most cannabis consumers want the herb legalized, and don’t have any problem paying a small tax (like the consumers of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine do).

    Let’s legalize cannabis for all the right reasons…and not keep it illegal for the wrong reasons.]

  17. Otherwise, it should be as much of a non issue as crabgrass, catnip or corn.

    [Editor’s note: Again, this is not politically or legally feasible…as cannabis, a mildly psychoactive herbal drug, is not crabgrass, catnip or corn…but is more like wine, beer, coffee, tea and cigarettes (all generate billions in taxes annually).]

  18. What implications will this have for employment drug testing? In states where it is legal will an employer be able to fire someone for non active thc in their system?

    [Editor’s note: Drug testing from private employers will not automatically end with the end of cannabis prohibition as tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals are tested for by some companies or government agencies (i.e., fire departments, etc…)…and they’re all legal.

    For drug testing to largely end, amending legislation will have to be passed and signed into law by future governors and presidents as cannabis becomes more and more legalized and socially acceptable.]

  19. it’s funny to see how desparate people have become in these not so modern times having to beg for use of their own free will.
    where that big fat orca when you need it

  20. I should live so long and I’m 62 right now!How long will this take to clear the senate and house,if at all,I know Obama will sign it.

  21. Does this have any chance of getting passed? Barney Franks and Ron Paul have presented a number of bills in the past and they never seen the light of day. Is there reason to think this time will be different? Is this being presented in a way that will require action? Please let us know what we can expect from these bills NORML. Will they even make it to the floor for a vote? Thanks

  22. I doubt that the Repugnicans will allow this to even get voted on if they can possibly stop it. My guess is that John Boehner will fight this tooth and nail. He does not want the marijuana laws to change. He is perfectly happy with his cigarettes and booze… Screw the rest of us…

    Maybe I’m wrong. I’d be very happy to be proven wrong!

  23. As a Christian I know for these laws to come to pass we need pray day & night. No matter what certain hot shot preachers on TV preach, I know in my heart God put marijuana here for our benefit. It is a gateway drug, but it is a gateway drug off of poisoned pharmaceutical drugs that are killing us, & our kids in these schools. As for myself I would not need the Vicodin or the Soma muscle relaxers at all for the chronic neck pain/headaches and lower back and leg pain I have. Cannabis is the gateway drug to getting my life back, and many others. It’s ALL I need! Please pray with me for these new laws to come to pass. And don’t ever let any minister keep you from the house of God on Sunday. It’s funny how ministers preach that cigarettes won’t send you to hell but cannabis will. Please people…believe me God has always been for medicinal Cannabis as our bodies are wasting away. Amen!

  24. I am in high hopes of this passing.I would also hope that upon passing this legislation that there will no longer be moneys released to states by the federal govt for the purpose of locking up cannabis consumers in the states that don’t legalize.If states want to keep this plant illegal then they should have to pay out of their own pocket to do so.

  25. Jeez, This is a good sign to come. I bet if this moves with full action, 30-40 years the entire country will have it legal!

  26. will walmart still be able to fire you in Colorado because your pee test’s positive for marijuana?

  27. What happens when all of the states surrounding Ohio and West Virginia legalize but Ohio and West Virginia do not? How am I supposed to drive from PA to KY without getting busted?

  28. why can’t the people vote on this as a nation, NOW?! personal grows need to be legal!

    [Editor’s note: In America, there is only one national vote, every four years, for president and vice president. There is no mechanism for a national referendum on social and political issues.]

  29. This is interesting stuff but one thing that bothers me is you guys never really provide information passed this, keep us updated on specific bills, please, or maybe provide them a webpage to see their status. I keep hearing of bills being introduced but never any say on what ends up happening to them.

    [Editor’s note: NORML tracks legislation from beginning to end…if you care to follow your state’s legislation, you can do so via the ‘Act’ link on NORML’s frontpage or your state’s legislative’s webpage.

    BTW, you don’t hear news on legislation that does not pass…because that is not really news, as compared to when bills pass, which by definition is news.

    The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc…report on the passage of the relatively few bills signed into law, not the 90% or more of legislation that does not advance.]

  30. If this goes through in the mid to long run it will be good but for a little bit afterwards states where it is still illegal will have less marijuana because dea and fed will focus on them making it harder to grow and sell or transport into these states. Plus what about federal land will possession on federal land in a state where its legal but its not legal on a federal level even after this it just defers to state laws where legal medical marijuana and recreational use is permitted. Also if the federal government decides to pass this we need an amendment to the laws in states where its illegal to lessen the penalties on possession of less then an ounce where by there is a fine like $100 the same way as tickets and no possible jail time unless the ticket goes unpaid. Then you can save tons of money from court costs to not haveing to jail the people plus make money on the tickets and reroute the money on a state level into education, healthcare and road services and the dea and narcotics divisions can focus on growers, sellers and smugglers (legal state to illegal state).This allows people selling on a street corner to kids and people underage to be arrested while having a “friend” come sell you a half ounce in youre home will get you no more then a fine for you or your “friend” as long as he carries less then an ounce.

  31. An example of who we need to work on is the 10th District Pennsylvania representative Tom Marino. His office has always answered my letters asking for the end of the drug war by saying “I will continue to strongly oppose any efforts to weaken or eliminate laws against the sale, possession, or use of marijuana.”
    He is a member of the House Commitee On The Judiciary, as well as Homeland Security and Foriegn Affairs.
    NORML’s website makes it easy to send messages to our reps, and when they’ve heard from enough voters maybe it will bring them back to an awareness of reality. Stand Strong.

  32. All this “regulation” does is make the government wealthy and keep the people poor.
    Passing your “helpful” laws is a sneaky way of stealing the little bit of freedom we have to smoke what God put on earth. If you law makers want to keep pissing people off, keep it up. Make it legal and leave us alone !!!!!!

  33. Well it seemed like a good idea until they said they were renaming BATF to include the word Marijuana. That’s going to go over like lead balloon.

    All they need to do is de-schedule it. No need to give the feds any more authority.

  34. If you read the bill HR499 it is so funny how Polis wants to re-name the ATF to atMF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana,& Firearms; How appropriate.

  35. Stop and do the math for Washington state.
    50% of grower price to the feds.
    25% of grower price to the state.
    25% of packager/producer level price to the state.
    25 percent of the retail price to the state, plus sales tax.
    Field grown pot that is 100$ now, would be 300$ under this new system in Washington State.
    Medical grade that runs 400$ now would be 900$ plus sales tax under the legal conditions being proposed today.
    The public would be singing songs about the black market suppliers trying to defeat oppression, and rightly so. Black market growers would be folk heroes!

    [Editor’s note: Cannabis is not going to cost consumers and patients more money than under prohibition. Prices are already going down under prohibition because of increasing supplies. Like with alcohol and tobacco products, if government sets taxes too high, there will indeed be a thriving black market. However, when this typically happens, governments lower the taxes to capture more revenue lost to the secondary market.

    Also, taxation is a function of government. If a city/state/nation wants less taxation, then the citizens should not keep electing policymakers that are supportive of high taxes.

    Will there someday be a popular Discovery or History Channel TV show about ‘marijuana moonshiners’ or songs about unregulated cannabis cultivators, who don’t want to comport with tax and revenue laws? Sure! Why not? But this has to be better than a government prohibition and the use of cannabis considered criminal.]

  36. Just wrote my Congressman on this one. Culberson is a Tea Party Member and should be all in for State’s Rights…I will be shocked if he supports this bill though. Although he did sign onto the Audit the Fed bill.

  37. “[Editor’s note: In America, there is only one national vote, every four years, for president and vice president. There is no mechanism for a national referendum on social and political issues.]”

    This is exactly what is wrong with this country. We only get to vote for tweedle dee or tweedle dum and not the actual issues. It is how they get away with ignoring the will of the people. It is totally wrong and possibly even immoral. Once again I have to say this is not my idea of democracy.

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