Two Oregon Democratic lawmakers on Thursday introduced an aggressive package of bills that aims to protect existing state marijuana laws while at the same time paving the way for the federal regulation of the burgeoning cannabis industry.
Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Earl Blumenauer introduced “The Path to Marijuana Reform Act,” which permit states to create and regulate their own regulatory policies free from federal interference. The bold legislation also calls for removing cannabis from the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.
“The federal government must respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow law-abiding marijuana businesses to go to the bank just like any other legal business.” Wyden said. “This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard.”
The three steps Wyden refers to are clearly outlined in the proposal:
Small Business Tax Equity Act
This legislation would repeal the tax penalty that singles out state-legal marijuana businesses and bars them from claiming deductions and tax credits.
Responsibly Addressing The Marijuana Policy Gap Act
This legislation would reduce the gap between Federal and State law by removing federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses acting in compliance with state law. It would also reduce barriers for state-legal marijuana businesses by ensuring access to banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research, and advertising. It would protect individual marijuana consumers in states that have legalized marijuana, by providing an expungement process for certain marijuana violations, ensuring access to public housing and federal financial aid for higher education, and ensuring that a person cannot be deported or denied entry to the U.S. solely for consuming marijuana in compliance with state law. Finally, it would remove unfair burdens by ensuring veterans have access to state-legal medical marijuana, and protecting Native American tribes from punishment under federal marijuana laws.
Marijuana Revenue And Regulation Act
This legislation would responsibly deschedule, tax, and regulate marijuana. It would impose an excise tax on marijuana products similar to current federal excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, escalating annually to a top rate equal to 25 percent of the sales price. Marijuana producers, importers, and wholesalers would be required to obtain a permit from the Department of Treasury, and the marijuana industry would be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol. Strict rules would prohibit sale or distribution of marijuana in states where it is illegal under state law.
The legislation “is another sign that the growing public support for ending our failed war on cannabis consumers nationwide is continuing to translate into political support amongst federal officials,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, a top marijuana reform group. “With marijuana legalization being supported by 60 percent of all Americans while Congress’ approval rating is in the low teens, ending our country’s disastrous prohibition against marijuana would not just be good policy, but good politics.”
Oregon is one of eight states where adult recreational marijuana is legal. There are 29 states that have medical marijuana programs. More than 60 million Americans over the age of 21 live in states that allow some form of marijuana consumption. And poll after poll consistently shows that about 60 percent of Americans support legalization of cannabis.
“Too many people are trapped between federal and state laws,” Blumenauer said. “It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need change now – and this bill is the way to do it.”
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