Marijuana Legalization Bills Introduced In Congress

By Chris Roberts |

Marijuana legalization is in Congress.

More than 213 million Americans are living in a state with some form of legal cannabis. This makes the federal government’s continuing prohibition of marijuana not only silly, but unenforceable.

So, a pair of the country’s most weed-friendly members of Congress moved Friday to legalize.

U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced bills that would “legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level,” according to a statement released Friday.

Polis’s bill, the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and would relieve the Drug Enforcement Administration from its duties enforcing weed. Instead, pot would be the purview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and cannabis would be dealt with like an “intoxicant.”

Blumenauer’s bill, the “Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015,” would allow the federal government to collect an excise tax on recreational cannabis.

Federal taxes and treatment like booze — this will rub medical marijuana purists the wrong way. But this is also one of the strongest shows of support for cannabis law reform on Capitol Hill since Ron Paul’s quixotic days of introducing legislation that never made it out of committee.

Remember, Congress in December passed a spending bill that — in theory, anyway — was supposed to remove the federal Justice Department from any situation involving state-legal weed.

Recreational cannabis is now legal in four states and in the District of Columbia. By 2016, there could be ten states or more with legal marijuana in America. That means it’s past time to get Uncle Sam on board, the lawmakers said.

“The federal prohibition of marijuana has been a failure, wasting tax dollars and ruining countless lives,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “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.”

There’s also the very real threat of a Republican president undoing all the progress that’s been done. Barack Obama has received considerable criticism for not showing full-throated support for legal weed. But he’s also not sent in the troops to shut everyone down. Will his successor be so friendly?

Probably, if the Republicans are paying attention to polls. But no matter who is in the White House, it’s important to remember that hardened drug warriors are at the DEA.