Members Of Congress Introduce Measures To Legalize Marijuana, Regulate Sales

Members Of Congress Introduce Measures To Legalize Marijuana, Regulate SalesWashington, DC: Members of Congress introduced historic legislation this week to permit the regulated production and retail sales of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption.

The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) removes cannabis from the control of the US Drug Enforcement Administration and authorizes the United States Department of Treasury to license state-authorized retail marijuana producers and distributors.

"This legislation doesn’t force any state to legalize marijuana," Rep. Polis said. "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."

The Marijuana Tax Equity Act, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), imposes an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana in a manner similar to the taxes that are presently imposed for the commercial production and sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Stated Rep. Blumenauer: "We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape. 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."

NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri praised the bills’ introduction: "When residents of Colorado and Washington voted to end their state’s prohibition on marijuana last November, it was a watershed moment for our nation’s move towards sane marijuana laws," he said. "But there remains a lingering conflict between state and federal law. These historic measures seek to resolve this conflict and empower states to dictate their own marijuana policies, without fear of federal incursion. NORML would like to thank the Congressmen for taking this brave step forward and encourages their colleagues in Congress to join them in calling for sensible marijuana law reform."

Representatives Blumenauer and Polis also issued a report on Tuesday outlining the need for federal marijuana law reform. Their report, entitled, "A Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy," states: "It is time for Congress to allow states and voters to decide how they want to treat marijuana. The current system is broken. It wastes resources and destroys individual lives, in turn damaging families and entire communities. It is past time to take action and stop this tragic waste in the future."

The report concludes: "While individual states remain the laboratories of innovation, it is time for the federal government to make sure that states, businesses, and individuals are able to act in an environment that has coherent and consistent laws. Congress should pursue each of the following options: Tax and regulate marijuana; … Allow states to enact existing medical marijuana laws without federal interference; … Remove [the] ban on industrial hemp; … Allow the marijuana industry to operate in a normal business environment."

According to a December 2012 Public Policy Polling telephone survey of US voters, 58 percent of Americans believe that marijuana "should be legal." Only 34 percent of respondents opposed the notion of legalizing cannabis. A new poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and released last week reports that 53 percent of Americans believe that "the government should treat marijuana the same as alcohol," while over 70 percent of respondents say that the federal government should butt out of the affairs of states that have legalized the plant.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500. Additional information regarding these measures is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: