Legislation Introduced in Congress to Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol at Federal Level
Companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Thursday would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and create a federal regulatory process for states that choose to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use.
Legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday that would end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.
Bills filed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving states to determine their own marijuana policies, and impose federal regulations on marijuana businesses in states that choose to regulate marijuana for adult use. Wyden’s bill would also enact a federal excise tax on marijuana products. In the House, the tax is being proposed in a separate bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
Wyden and Blumenauer also filed marijuana policy “gap” bills that would eliminate many of the collateral consequences associated with federal marijuana convictions without removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
An additional bill filed by Wyden with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) would reform section 280E of the U.S. Tax Code to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses from their federal taxes. A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Blumenauer.
Data released yesterday from the General Social Survey shows the percentage of Americans who think marijuana use should be legal increased from 52% in 2014 to 57% in 2016. A national Quinnipiac University poll released last month also found 57% support for legalization. It also revealed that a vast majority of Americans — over 70%, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every age group — oppose the federal government enforcing prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal for medical or adult use.
“This is commonsense legislation that will eliminate the growing tension between federal and state marijuana laws”, says Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Voters and legislatures are rolling back antiquated state marijuana prohibition policies, and it’s time for Congress to step up at the federal level. States are adopting laws designed to improve public safety by replacing the illegal marijuana market with a tightly regulated system of production and sales. The federal government should be working to facilitate that transition, not hinder it. It’s time for Congress to come to grips with the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and most Americans think it should be treated that way.”