Congressmen Introduce Bills to Legalize and Tax Marijuana

States would still be free to ban the drug.


Office of Earl Blumenauer

Today Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced bills that would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. Polis' Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (H.R. 1013) would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Subsrances Act and assign regulatory authority to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Shipping cannabis into states where it is prohibited would remain illegal. Blumenauer's Marijuana Tax Revenue Act (H.R. 1014) would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana (generally from a grower to a processor); the rate, initially 10 percent, would rise gradually to 25 percent. The tax would not apply to medical marijuana.

Why the seemingly unnecessary revenue in the name of Blumenauer's bill? Presumably because he thought changing an h to a j would not be enough to avoid confusion with the law that started marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

Here is how Blumenauer explained the motivation for the bills:

It's time for the federal government to chart a new path forward for marijuana. 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.

Polis added:

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. 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.

The bills unveiled today are similar to legislation that Polis and Bluemenauer introduced in 2013. The 2013 version of the legalization bill attracted 18 cosponsors, two fewer than a similar bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) in 2011. The 2013 version of the marijuana tax bill had  nine cospsonsors. None of the bills made it to committee.

NEXT: Federal Judge Denies Death Row Inmates Access to Information on the Drugs That Will Kill Them

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  1. Yea – freedom to pay more taxes!

    1. technically, you’re always free to pay more taxes. This simply goes with the long tradition of that freedom by codifying it.

  2. Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act

    So libertarians have another 100 years to bitch about pot laws?

    1. That’s right, but it’s more than 200 years. We’ve been bitching to get the government out of alcohol regulation since the Whiskey Rebellion.

      Give me liberty or give me death I’m gonna whine, and bitch, and moan about it–and point fingers and ridicule and laugh at you.

    2. let’s not let the ideal get in the way of the good enough for now, amirite?

      1. Splitter!

  3. It is too bad the GOP is so gutless and stupid. They would pass a bill legalizing pot and watch Obama veto it. You know he would.

    1. Someone could call it the “Taking Control of Our Bodies” law and piss off every feminist in the country too.

      1. They really have no balls. If they did, they would invoke the Reid rule and pass a single bill that legitimized Obama’s amnesty program, make birth control over the counter and legalized pot at the price of banning the EPA from regulating CO2, authorizing Keystone, and opening ANWAR to drilling.

        It would be hysterical watching progs stomp with rage at being forced to make choices instead of just getting their pony handed to them.

        1. The brilliance of the Contract with America was that Newt didn’t promise to pass anything, just bring bills to a vote. The fact that they passed so many of the bills was icing on the cake.

          If the Republicans had any brains they would schedule a Thursday morning vote every week to pass one piece of conservative legislation and force Obama to veto a law every week.

          1. Yes. The filibuster is dead. it died with Obamacare. There is no point in pretending otherwise. Everyone knows the Democrats will go around the filibuster if they ever get in power again. They already did once with Obamacare.

            It sucks that the filibuster is dead. It is not good for the Republic. But facts are facts and the Democrats killed it. The only thing worse is if the Republicans still live by it while the Democrats ignore it whenever they are in power. They should kill the filibuster and do exactly what you say.

            1. It’s like these dude never played poker, or chess, or even fucking chinese checkers. Basic game theory is beyond their grasp.

      2. Why does everybody and I mean virtually everybody, including many people who advocate for marijuana and oppose the drug war, casually accept the premise that the government has any business whatsoever dictating what we may or may not ingest into our own bodies??? And shouldn’t this be the central issue in the debate over substance prohibition and isn’t the rest just pure horseshit?

    2. Yes. you are correct- this is an accurate prediction. The downside is Obama supporters can dismiss a lot to defend their hero and the GOP would still, somehow, be painted as the bad guys in the media.

  4. Congressman Introduce Bills …

    Typo in the first word. You’ve one-upped Jesse Walker.

    1. My name is Jared Polis, for we are many.

  5. It looks like the only way to get MJ legalized is to do it in such a way that various governments can still collect at least as much revenue from it as they do now (taxes instead of asset seizure) and also retain power through regulation.

    Not perfect, but head and shoulders above what we have now.

    1. The problem is that the states will regulate it and tax it to such a degree, the black market will still be profitable. So we will get the same drug war with taxes and regulation now added in.

      1. #icantbreathe

      2. I don’t know if that’s happening in legalized states now, is it? Is that what happened with booze? I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I’m not sure there’s evidence to support that claim.

        1. IT is not what happened with booze. But it is starting to happen with cigarettes in a lot of states. I bet what happened with cigarettes will happen with pot. People from low tax states will go into the smuggling and black market business to people in high tax states.

          1. yes, but then we can have another series of Burt Reynolds moonshine movies. It’s a win win.

          2. There is some moonshinin’ going on, but I think it is more tradition than markets. I’m curious if taxes push a high consumption product like tobacco into black markets more than occasional consumption product like liquor.

            1. I’d like to study it, but I’m afraid I’ll be arrested.

            2. It’s the difference between making something (moonshine) and transporting a ready-made product from one tax locale to another. Tobacco smuggling is easy and the insane level of taxation makes it profitable. If one state had 800% taxes on booze, alcohol smuggling would be more common as well.

      3. Yes, but old dudes with careers on the line might be willing to pay the inflated price to be legal.

      4. Its certainly possible theoretically to regulate and tax something to a level that creates a black market comparable to prohibition.

        But, compare the criminal activity around alcohol during Prohibition with the level of criminal activity around alcohol now.

        There’s still a tiny black market in alcohol (hell, there’s a black market in crude oil, for that matter). So what? Still a huge improvement over the previous, enormous, black market.

  6. I’ll never understand laws that prohibit growing plants or mushrooms. I can sort of understand regulating the manufacturer of drugs, but growing weed or growing mushrooms isn’t manufacturing, it’s farming.

    Do social conservatives believe that God made a mistake when he created these plants? If only the GOP would pass a law that simply stated that the government has no authority to regulate what plants can be cultivated.

    1. If only the GOP would pass a law that simply stated that the government has no authority to regulate what plants can be cultivated.

      That law already exists: the Constitution.

      1. I agree that there is no legal authority for the feds to regulate the cultivation of plants.

        I believe a judge in New Mexico basically made a ruling that growing shrooms was not manufacturing a drug and couldn’t be regulated by the state.

        Now if only the 9 black robed savants who guide our land would get with the program.

        1. Interstate Commerce?

          1. or lack thereof (which, of course, means the same thing, right?)

            1. Exactly. Not buying something means engaging in interstate commerce.

      2. I don’t see how the Constitution grants the power to regulate anything grown or made for personal consumption in your own home. If you sell it sure, but even then I would only give the states the power to prohibit it under the general police power.

        1. You use shovels, dirt, equipment to grow at home. Those items are transported on roads across state lines. This is the “instrumentality” of the Commerce Clause.

    2. “If only the GOP would pass a law…”

      Let me stop you right there.

    3. And a good number of them drink like fish. It is like cats and water. They hate pot. They don’t really know why and there isn’t any obvious reason for it, but they just hate it.

      1. Cats hate water because when they get wet they look smaller and like an easier target. The GOP hates pot because ……. I got nothing.
        / wild speculation about cats

        1. long hair.

  7. Nope, too much money in it.

  8. The more revenue they bring in the more irresponsible and reckless they they are with it. The government spends money like a Kentucky lottery winner on meth.

  9. You know what, fuck them. Leaving aside ideals for a moment: the federal gov’t has sat on its hands for decades, and now that they see which way the wind blows the cowards want a piece of the action. They didn’t do any lifting, heavy or otherwise, they don’t deserve a single cent of tax revenue.

  10. Again, making something “legal” which shouldn’t have been “illegal” to begin with. Why can’t something just exist without bringing law into it? Was the apple I ate with my lunch today legal or was it just an apple?

  11. Short version: “The states are making a pot of money off taxing pot. We want our cut.” No pothead is nearly as addicted to MJ as the government is to tax revenue.

    remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and assign regulatory authority to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

    Frying pan into the fire.

  12. The over taxation of cannabis can only last for so long. When there is not enough legal sales because of the black market thriving too much, those in the industry will complain, the government will feel the pain of lost revenue, and the tax will come down to more in line with that of alcohol. Eventually, rules for growing your own will be more lax because it’s nearly impossible to stop in a legal environment, just like brewing beer at home, and that won’t hurt the legal pot shops at all, because not everyone is willing or able to grow their own.

  13. 2016 will be an anti-Prohibition election.

  14. As a resident of Washington, I’m skeptical of anything that’s regulated like Alcohol.

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  16. I’d rather continue to buy pot “illegally” than pay taxes to this evil corrupt genocidal government.

  17. Guess what? Taxing the crap out of it doesn’t really work. People just go and get their medical card and pay a whole lot less tax. Make the tax reasonable and it will work. 40% here in Denver is ridiculous.

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