Effort building to change US Marijuana laws...

Soloman_The_WiseSoloman_The_Wise The Make It Happen Man...Posts: 2,043 ✭✭✭✭✭
By GENE JOHNSON

SEATTLE (AP) - An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal pot tax.

While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills, the first of which Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday, Blumenauer told The Associated Press.

Polis' measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it's legal to one where it isn't.

The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Reps. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Ron Paul of Texas.


(AP) In this June 8, 2011 file photo, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, speaks during an interview,...
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Blumenauer's bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent on the "first sale" of marijuana - typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax pot producers or importers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500.

His office said Monday it doesn't yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might bring in. But a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week suggests, based on admittedly vague estimates, that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion a year. They call for directing the money to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and the national debt.

Last fall's votes in Colorado and Washington state to legalize recreational marijuana should push Congress to end the 75-year federal pot prohibition, Blumenauer said.

Washington state officials have estimated that its legal marijuana market could bring in about half a billion dollars a year in state taxes.

"You folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart," Blumenauer said. "We're still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal. ... It's past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out."

Advocates who are working with the lawmakers acknowledge it could take years for any changes to get through Congress, but they're encouraged by recent developments. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week came out in support of efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on marijuana.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has indicated he plans to hold a hearing on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and has urged an end to federal "mandatory minimum" sentences that lead to long prison stints for drug crimes.

"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, who has been working with lawmakers on marijuana-related bills. "For the first time, the wind is behind our back."

The Justice Department hasn't said how it plans to respond to the votes in Washington and Colorado. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores, on the grounds that doing so would conflict with federal drug law.

Blumenauer and Polis' paper urges a number of changes, including altering tax codes to let marijuana dispensaries deduct business expenses on federal taxes, and making it easier for marijuana-related businesses to get bank accounts. Many operate on a cash basis because federally insured banks won't work with them, they noted.

Blumenauer said he expects to introduce the tax-code legislation as well as a bill that would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to enact medical marijuana laws without fear that federal authorities will continue raiding dispensaries or prosecuting providers. It makes no sense that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, in the same category as heroin and a more restrictive category than cocaine, Blumenauer said.

The measures have little chance of passing, said Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser. Sabet recently joined former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and former President George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum in forming a group called Project SAM - for "smart approaches to marijuana" - to counter the growing legalization movement. Sabet noted that previous federal legalization measures have always failed.

"These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana problem we have in this country," Sabet said. "The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids, and stigma of people who have a criminal record for marijuana crimes.

"There are a lot more people in Congress who think that marijuana should be illegal but treated as a public health problem, than think it should be legal."

Project SAM suggests people shouldn't get criminal records for small-time marijuana offenses, but instead could face probation or treatment.

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Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle
kingblaze84WYRM

Replies

  • kingblaze84kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopPosts: 10,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Marijuana should be.....and will be, legal one day. I give props to some members of Congress for doing this. A double fuck you to Obama for being a dickhead on this issue.
    Soloman_The_WiseWYRMPlutarch
  • Soloman_The_WiseSoloman_The_Wise The Make It Happen Man... Posts: 2,043 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think people are missing the dual benfit of not only taxes from it but also money saved from judicial system. Now if we can release those convicted of non violent weed related offenses we will even further save money...
    WYRMkingblaze84StoneColdMikeyPlutarch
  • kingblaze84kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopPosts: 10,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I think people are missing the dual benfit of not only taxes from it but also money saved from judicial system. Now if we can release those convicted of non violent weed related offenses we will even further save money...

    Exactamundo!!! We talk about how we need to save money, one of the easiest ways to save money would be to stop locking up people just to house, feed, and take care of them medically. That makes too much sense for Washington DC, it's mostly morons in charge there.
    Soloman_The_Wise
  • Soloman_The_WiseSoloman_The_Wise The Make It Happen Man... Posts: 2,043 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Neither Democrats nor Republicans are true to anything other then special interests. IF they were truly representative of the values their party names imply then a lot common sense things like this initiative would have been passed decades ago. They play like they are differrent sides of the fence when in truth each does things to benefit the position of the "opposition" we are being bamboozled as a populace...
    Big Jameskingblaze84Plutarch
  • Big JamesBig James Posts: 320 ✭✭✭✭
    US politics = WWE
    Soloman_The_WisePlutarch
  • kingblaze84kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopPosts: 10,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It's sad how the politicians in DC keep talking about how they want the economy to improve but do everything in their power to keep marijuana businesses from growing. I can see why so many look at American govt as an oppresive force. It's not on our side, only on the side of big business. Democrats and Republicans both suck
  • kingblaze84kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopPosts: 10,571 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2013
    Neither Democrats nor Republicans are true to anything other then special interests. IF they were truly representative of the values their party names imply then a lot common sense things like this initiative would have been passed decades ago. They play like they are differrent sides of the fence when in truth each does things to benefit the position of the "opposition" we are being bamboozled as a populace...

    Yep, one moment Obama is whining about how Bush did this and did that, the next moment he adopts most of his policies. The Patriot Act and drone program comes to mind. He also is on record saying Bush's policies on medical marijuana is not right and when he became president, became even more harsh on marijuana LOL. American politics at this point is a joke
    Plutarch
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