Bills Introduced to End the Federal Prohibition and Tax Cannabis

By Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representative cannabisisnotpotEarl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced two bills that together would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. Representative Blumenauer’s legislation, H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows. Representative Polis’s legislation, H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors.”

More than 213 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows the some form of legal use of marijuana. Twenty-three states currently allow for medical marijuana, while four states–Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska–and the District of Columbia recently legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. Eleven additional states have passed laws allowing the use of low-THC forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

Following federal legalization, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act would impose a federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana for non-medical purposes as well as apply an occupational tax for marijuana businesses. The bill would establish civil and criminal penalties for those who fail to comply, like those in place for the tobacco industry.  The bill also requires the IRS to produce periodic studies of the marijuana industry and to issue recommendations to Congress. It phases in an excise tax on the sale by a producer (generally the grower) to the next stage of production (generally the processor creating the useable product).  This tax is initially set at 10% and rises over time to 25% as the legal market displaces the black market.  Medical marijuana is exempt from this tax.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would remove marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transition marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulate marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code that governs “intoxicating liquors.”

“It’s time for the federal government to chart a new path forward for marijuana.” said Mr. Blumenauer.  “Together these bills create a federal framework to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, much like we treat alcohol and tobacco. The federal prohibition of marijuana has been a failure, wasting tax dollars and ruining countless lives. 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.”

“Over the past year, Colorado has demonstrated that regulating marijuana like alcohol takes money away from criminals and cartels, grows our economy, and keeps marijuana out of the hands of children,” said Mr. Polis. “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. 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.”

National trends reflect state efforts.  More than 46% of people 18 and older have tried marijuana at least once and public opinion research reveals more than half of the U.S. population supports legalization. Yet even as states and local governments have taken the lead in finding legal arrangements for marijuana, federal law classifies it among the most dangerous illegal drugs. The enforcement of these laws wastes federal resources and ruins lives. Individuals, states, and marijuana businesses are trapped in a patchwork of conflicting state and federal laws.

It is time for Congress to end the federal prohibition on marijuana, remove it from the Controlled Substances Act, and create a sensible tax and regulatory framework. This represents a unique opportunity to save ruined lives, wasted enforcement and prison costs, while simultaneously helping to create a new industry, with new jobs and revenues that will improve the federal budget outlook.

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  1. So if I want to grow commercially and I don’t pay someone to dry and cure for me I have to pay a 25% tax on the sale ON TOP OF ANOTHER TAX FOR DRYING AND CURING?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sorry guys I vote no.

    • scott on February 22, 2015 at 8:26 am
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    growing ur own herb garden is cheaper . We in Colorado have been growing our own legally medically since 2000.

    • Linda on February 20, 2015 at 10:26 pm
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    Under this act, huge penalties will be imposed for those who operate without a permit or violate the rules. Under this tax act, no felon for marijuana at state or federal level can ever have a place in the industry. As I recall, the kid in Texas who made brownies has felony charges because some states have unreasonable laws. Blumenauer needs to be tarred and feathered for this piece of crap legislation.

      • Anonymous on February 21, 2015 at 11:55 am
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      plz dont talk

    • Linda on February 20, 2015 at 10:23 pm
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    Read the text of the act. It is horrible! Appears to me they intend to bring back the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and remove schedule 1. Right after 1937 tax act was ousted they responded with classifying schedule 1. We don’t gain anything from this. Remove it from Schedule 1 and leave your hands off of people.

    • Jimmy on February 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm
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    I appreciate the effort, very much. However, the tax plan will crater the policy though. Double tax at the federal level plus tax at the state and local level will push the price well past the $10-$12 per gram that we pay today. Similar but worse than the system that is failing in WA due to overly inflated prices. My definition of failure in this case is if the black market continues as strong as it is today, the policy is a failure. Legislators need to put themselves in the shoes of the consumer and structure the system to benefit the consumer rather than penalize them (tax the S out of us). Only then will we buy at a store. Nice try though, at least we’ll no longer face the ridiculous criminal penalties of today. I see no reason to come out of the shadows to buy at a store other than a better price. My $0.02, puff puff give.

    • Charles Gedrick on February 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm
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    Time to contact your legilators and tell them you support HR 1013 and if you happen to live in the state whose legislator chairs the comittee this is assigned to put real pressure on them

    • Vicki on February 20, 2015 at 3:21 pm
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    thank you so much for your intellectual insights into this horrid issue. Hopefully you can get the others to see reason.

    • Lynne on February 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm
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    Thank you both for the first genuinely appropriate acknowledgement of this herbal remedy to so many of our current neurologic and physical disorders.
    I applauded your bill and pray that it is successful.
    Earl, you are a wonder and a blessing to we Oregonians. Thank you.

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