Colorado and Washington did it and now several states are considering it or have already taken steps to do it—it’s the legalization of marijuana. And the one thing standing in the way of several states, the same thing that could effectively derail efforts even in the states where it has already been legalized, is federal law. Two lawmakers, however, have taken an ambitious step towards remedying this—by introducing a federal bill to legalize and regulate cannabis.
It’s a long shot, but Colorado Representative Jared Polis (D) and Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer (D) are being ambitious. Polis introduced legislation to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol. Blumenauer simultaneously introduced a bill to establish a federal tax structure for production and sales. Both are backed by marijuana and civil liberties advocates alike.
The two released a report to support their efforts entitled, “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy.” Inside, it states, “It is time for Congress to allow states and voters to decide how they want to treat marijuana. The current system is broken. It wastes resources and destroys individual lives, in turn damaging families and entire communities.”
A majority of American adults want to see marijuana legalized and regulated. From those who regularly smoke to those who don’t and simply recognize the right of any sensible adult to choose, support for state laws is growing and disdain for the failed federal marijuana policies is too.
Before Obama took office (the first time) he promised the federal government would focus on other things—that marijuana enforcement (particularly medical marijuana) would not be a priority. However, since then, the feds actions have spoken far louder—with continued dispensary raids and arrests of nonviolent medical marijuana patients.
The federal government is waging a domestic war that few people support. And the beginning of the end of this war lies with marijuana.
“We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Blumenauer when the bills were introduced. “Public attitude, state law, and established practices are all creating irreconcilable difficulties for public officials at every level of government. We want the federal government to be a responsible partner with the rest of the universe of marijuana interests while we address what federal policy should be regarding drug taxation, classification, and legality.”
While the chances of both bills making it past Congress are pretty slim, the introduction of the legislation is a start, and an important one at that. Lawmakers will be forced to at least consider the possibility that marijuana legalization is the right thing to do. And who knows, maybe they’ll surprise us.