Today Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced bills that would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. Polis’ Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (H.R. 1013) would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Subsrances Act and assign regulatory authority to the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Shipping cannabis into states where it is prohibited would remain illegal. Blumenauer’s Marijuana Tax Revenue Act (H.R. 1014) would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana (generally from a grower to a processor); the rate, initially 10 percent, would rise gradually to 25 percent. The tax would not apply to medical marijuana.
Why the seemingly unnecessary revenue in the name of Blumenauer’s bill? Presumably because he thought changing an h to a j would not be enough to avoid confusion with the law that started marijuana prohibition at the federal level.
Here is how Blumenauer explained the motivation for the bills:
It’s time for the federal government to chart a new path forward for marijuana. Together these bills create a federal framework to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, much like we treat alcohol and tobacco. The federal prohibition of marijuana has been a failure, wasting tax dollars and ruining countless lives. As more states move to legalize marijuana, as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done, it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.