Historic Legislative Proposals Would Treat Marijuana Like Alcohol and Create a Federal Tax
Congressmen Blumenauer and Polis to Release Report and Establish Working Group for Sensible Drug Policy
U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) on Tuesday will hold a press teleconference to introduce two pieces of legislation that would reform federal marijuana policy.
Last fall’s votes in Washington state and Colorado to legalize recreational marijuana for adults should push Congress to end the 75-year-old federal prohibition on pot, according to Blumenauer.
Rep. Polis’ bill would end federal marijuana prohibition and let states decide their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal interference, and would set up a regulatory process – similar to the one for alcohol – for states that decide to legalize. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would no longer have oversight of marijuana; that authority would be given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms (which sounds more like a party where I grew up in Alabama than a government agency, I must say).Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would tax marijuana at the federal level, creating a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent(!) on the “first sale” of cannabis, typically from a grower to a processor or retailer. It would also tax marijuana producers or importers $1,000 a year and other marijuana businesses $500.
Bluemanuer’s office said on Monday that it doesn’t yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might eventually bring in, but a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis will release tomorrow suggests that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion per year.,
The congressmen are calling for that money to be directed to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and the national debt.
While passage this year could be a longshot, according to The Associated Press, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on the bills.
Additionally, Reps. Blumenauer and Polis will on Tuesday release a report entitled “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy” which outlines their perspective on marijuana policy and provides some background on marijuana regulation and opportunities for action.
The congressmen have also established the Sensible Drug Policy Working Group which will provide a forum for members of Congress who are working on related issues and hope to advance legislation.
“We’re seeing enormous political momentum to undo the drug war failings of the past 40 years,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “For the first time, the wind is at our back.”