On Friday, two congressmen filed separate bills that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the federal level.
Colorado Rep. Jared Polis introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would, according to the Huffington Post, “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.”
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenaur’s legislation, called the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, would create a tax for regulated marijuana.
“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," Polis said in a statement. "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.”
With marijuana legalization becoming more accepted in recent years throughout the country, federal push back from these two bills seems unlikely. There is, however, still a chance that states could resist progression in regard to federal legalization.
“Despite the compelling case for legalization, and progress toward legalization at the state level, ultimate success is not assured,” Harvard University Economist Jeff Miron wrote in an op-ed for CNN. “Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and existing jurisprudence (Gonzales v. Raich 2005) holds that federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana prohibition. So far, the federal government has mostly taken a hands-off approach to state medicalizations and legalizations, but in January 2017, the country will have a new president. That person could order the attorney general to enforce federal prohibition regardless of state law."
Blumenaur said he believes that federal marijuana prohibition has failed, and that it’s time for a new policy towards the plant.
“As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” Blumenaur said, “it's imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”
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