Legislation Introduced in Congress to Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol at the Federal Level
Measures 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
Additional bills filed in the House and Senate on Thursday would eliminate many of the collateral consequences associated with federal marijuana convictions and reform a section of the federal tax code so that state-legal marijuana businesses can take standard deductions on business expenses
WASHINGTON — 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.
Statement from Robert Capecchi, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, regarding the bills to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol:
“This is commonsense legislation that will eliminate the growing tension between federal and state marijuana laws. 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.
“We commend Sen. Wyden and Reps. Polis and Blumenauer for proposing a sensible path forward. We hope their colleagues will take an objective look at the benefits of replacing prohibition with a system of regulation. There will surely be some members on the fence about this legislation, but consider it unthinkable that we would return to alcohol prohibition. They need to ask themselves why they are still clinging to the prohibition of a less harmful substance.”
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