Seven pro-marijuana bills introduced Thursday in Congress

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Seven pro-marijuana industry bills were announced Thursday morning by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers in the House and Senate, suggesting that 2017 may be the year real reform gets through the Capitol.

The sponsors range from longtime marijuana industry allies such as Oregon Democrat U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer to newcomers to the cause such as Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Three bills were introduced in the Senate, along with four more in the House. In the upper chamber, the point man is Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who is sponsoring all three bills.

One of the measures, which would grant an exception for state-licensed marijuana businesses to the 280E provision of the federal tax code, is also co-sponsored by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul and Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet.

A parallel measure was introduced in the House by Blumenauer and Curbelo. Both measures are called the Small Business Tax Equity Act.

Wyden’s second bill, called the Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act, would guarantee banking access for legal cannabis businesses, grant bankruptcy protection for MJ companies, prohibit the use of civil asset forfeiture tactics by the federal government against legal marijuana businesses and much more, according to a news release.

Wyden’s third measure, dubbed the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and establish a new federal excise tax on cannabis products, with a top tax rate of 25% of the sale price.

In the House, the four bills being run are all similar – if not identical – versions of the Senate bills, with the Policy Gap Act broken into two different bills, according to sources (draft language was not immediately available Thursday).

Blumenauer and Curbelo are teaming up to reform 280E, while Colorado Democrat Jared Polis is sponsoring the House bill to deschedule cannabis. Blumenauer is also sponsoring the other two bills introduced in the House on Thursday.

A further breakdown of all the pro-cannabis bills introduced so far this year in Congress will be published on next week.