Marijuana legalization may soon spread nationwide with two Congressmen trying to strip the drug of its Schedule 1 classification and instead regulate the drug the same way as alcohol.
Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are pushing for a bill that would repeal marijuana prohibition nationwide while also providing an opportunity for the cannabis industry to grow nationwide.
Polis wants the federal government to treat marijuana the way it does alcohol --- and even named his bill the "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act." The bill would set parameters for the Bureau of Alcohol. Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to create regulations for the sale of marijuana nationwide.
A second bill would set a federal tax for marijuana.
Polis said there is a good example in Colorado, where legalized marijuana has led to a booming cannabis industry and put millions of dollars back in the tax coffers.
"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," he said.
"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," he added.
Many states have already moved to legalize marijuana on their own. As the clock struck midnight on Thursday, marijuana became legal for residents in Washington, D.C. In the previous months, Washington, Colorado and Alaska have legalized the drug.
Experts say they expect many others to follow their lead in the coming years.
"What you're seeing here is the end of marijuana prohibition, a change in attitudes and a real shift in law enforcement — a huge step forward in the national fight for legalization," said Michael Collins, national policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
While the United States may be moving toward total legalization of marijuana, it is still expected to take several years to get to that point. But as Cannabis Now Magazine points out, with public opinion moving rapidly toward acceptance of legal marijuana, it may be sooner rather than later.
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