A federal lawmaker who vowed last year to get the ball rolling to end federal marijuana prohibition in the 2019 legislative session is already making strides to get it done. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, one of the founders of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has introduced what is being referred to as the “420” bill, which is designed to eliminate marijuana from the confines of the Controlled Substances Act and allow it to be taxed and regulated like alcohol. It’s the first step to full-blown legalization nationwide, and to taking the cannabis industry to the next level.
Although it sounds like the kind of fake news the cannabis community might find in their social media feeds on April Fool’s Days, the proposal has, in fact, been filed as H.R. 420 (aka “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act). It calls for marijuana regulation to overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and essentially opens up the cannabis trade to becoming part of American commerce.
“While the bill number may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the issue is very serious,” Blumenauer, told Willamette Week. “Our federal marijuana laws are outdated, out of touch and have negatively impacted countless lives. Congress cannot continue to be out of touch with a movement that a growing majority of Americans support. It’s time to end this senseless prohibition.”
This move is precisely what some cannabis advocates have been fighting for all of these years, yet others would prefer to see it go legal with fewer regulations – like tomatoes. But like it or not, this is where marijuana legalization is heading in the United States. It was never going to shake out any other way, certainly not in a manner that treats weed like a vegetable. There is just too much money to be made in the inebriation sector – some predictions put the market at $80 billion by 2030 — and let’s face it capitalism and corporate greed have been humping it out too heavy for too long to have it any other way.
Representative Blumenauer introduced his “Blueprint to Legalize Marijuana” to Democratic leadership in October of last year. His plan, according to the document, was to take advantage of Democratic control is the House of Representative by taking steps to end prohibition by the end of the year. This would begin with a series of proposals to legitimize marijuana banking and provide veterans with hassle-free access for medical use. The big guns were not supposed to come out until around September.
There is a lot of hope that Congress will take the marijuana issue seriously in 2019. Many believe that the recent changes on Capitol Hill will allow the issue to fit in more with legislative agendas and become the subject of an honest debate. One thing is certain, we will get to gauge the Hill’s enthusiasm for legal weed a little easier now with the early introduction of the 420 bill. The measure will either earn the support necessary to give nationwide legalization a fair shot in the coming months, or it will become the poster child for legislative hype, much like the CARERS Act and STATES Act did during their respective 15-minutes.