Two bills were introduced in Congress last week that, if passed, would end America’s decades-long marijuana prohibition and make the plant legal at the federal level, Huffington Post is reporting.
Neither of the proposed marijuana legalization bills would force the 50 states (or actually, the 46 states that haven’t already done so) to legalize pot, but rather, would set up a federal policy of regulating it for those states that choose to legalize.
Currently, recreational marijuana is legal in four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska), as well as the District of Columbia — and medical marijuana is legal in 23 states, according to Governing. However, marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
The two proposed bills would guarantee that any state that legalizes pot could do so without interference from the federal government. Currently, the federal government “allows” legal recreational pot, and legal medical pot, inasmuch as it has promised not to interfere in those states’ legal pot trades, and Congress has not allocated any money in the current budget for such interference.
The first of the two proposed marijuana legalization bills comes from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado). The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would completely remove marijuana from the government’s list of controlled substances, and subject it to the same federal regulations currently governing alcohol, according to Counter Current News.
The second is the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon). Blumenauer’s bill would place a federal excise tax on federally-regulated marijuana.
Polis issued a statement Friday explaining why he believes the time has come to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana at the federal level.
“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.”
Whether either of the two proposed marijuana legalization bills will become law remains to be seen. Time columnist Ryan Teague Beckwith is not hopeful.
“Like similar bills introduced by Polis and former Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul, [neither bill is] going anywhere in Washington any time soon. [Marijuana legalization] remains a non-starter on Capitol Hill.”
The Daily Caller‘s Jonah Bennett notes that two similar bills were rejected during Congress’ last session. However, times have changed since then.
“Notably, though, the Obama administration has warmed up to marijuana in the past few months, and last year, the Republican-dominated Congress decided to defund the Drug Enforcement Administration from cracking down on state medical marijuana.”
Do you think it’s time to legalize marijuana at the federal level? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/Marc Piscotty]