Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Overhaul Federal Marijuana Policies, Bolster Cannabis Industry

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Two congressmen have unveiled separate bills today that would overhaul the federal government’s approach to marijuana and allow the industry to flourish in states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use.

Here are the details:

– US Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) has introduced legislation that would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, meaning individual states could decide whether or not to legalize it without fear of federal intervention. Under the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, growers in states with cannabis laws would have to apply for a federal permit, and all businesses would have to abide by local marijuana rules to qualify.

The bill, according to a fact sheet released by Polis, also would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act; ensure that federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and individuals who are involved in commercial sale and distribution; and reassign jurisdiction of marijuana regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the newly-renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives.

– US Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that calls for the government to implement a federal tax on marijuana sales, which could bring in an estimated $20 billion in taxes a year and would further legitimize the industry. The lawmaker also says he is seeking changes that would let MMJ dispensaries claim common business deductions and remove barriers that prevent cannabis centers from opening bank accounts.

To be clear, the proposals face some stiff resistance from other lawmakers, and it’s doubtful either one will pass this year – or anytime soon for that matter, according to some pundits. But the bills are a strong sign that attitudes toward marijuana are beginning to shift in the nation’s capital, and they will fuel the momentum created when Colorado and Washington State legalized cannabis in November.