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Everything You Wanted to Know About the New Federal Marijuana Legalization Measures

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director February 5, 2013

    Today, Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer introduced two legislative measures that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana and permit for the regulated production and retail sales of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption.

    Representative Polis’ legislation, The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, transfer the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, require commercial marijuana producers to purchase a permit, and ensure federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.

    Speaking on the bill, Rep. Polis stated, “This legislation doesn’t force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the 18 other jurisdictions that have chosen to allow marijuana for medical or recreational use deserve the certainty of knowing that federal agents won’t raid state-legal businesses. Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war.”

    Representative Blumenauer’s legislation is aimed at creating a federal tax structure which would allow for the federal government to collect excise taxes on marijuana sales and businesses in states that have legalized its use. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor. These regulations are similar to those that now exist for alcohol and tobacco. The bill will also require the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that, and to issue recommendations to Congress to continue improving the administration of the tax.

    “We are in the process of a dramatic shift in the marijuana policy landscape,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “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.”

    You can use NORML’s Take Action Center here to easily contact your elected officials and urge them to support these measures.

    These two pieces of legislation are historic in their scope and forward looking nature and it is likely you have many unanswered questions. NORML has compiled the below FAQs to hopefully address many of these inquiries.

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Q: Would this make marijuana legal everywhere?
    A: No, but it would allow states who wish to pursue legalization to do so without federal incursion. Currently, the federal government claims that state laws which have legalized medical and recreational marijuana use are in conflict with federal law. It is under this claim that they raid medical marijuana dispensaries, arrest consumers, etc. If these measures were to pass, marijuana law would be the domain of the states. If a state choses to legalize and regulate its use, it can do so in the way it would any other product and the federal government would issue permits to commercial growers and sellers and collect tax revenue. If a state choses to retain marijuana prohibition, they may as well, and the federal government would assist in stopping flow of marijuana into the state’s borders, as transporting marijuana from a legalized state into one retaining prohibition would still be illegal under this legislation.

    Q: What does this mean for scheduling?
    A: Marijuana would be removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and be listed under Title 27 of the US Code, alongside the provisions for intoxicating beverages.

    Q: What does this mean for Washington and Colorado?
    A: Colorado and Washington would be empowered to continue moving forward with implementing their marijuana legalization laws and no longer have to worry about federal intervention. Once cultivators and retailers were operational in those states, Rep. Blumenauer’s bill would allow the federal government to collect excise tax from those commercial entities and issue them permits.

    Q: What happens to the DEA?
    A: The DEA would no longer oversee marijuana law enforcement in this country. Control of marijuana enforcement would move to the newly named Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Firearms and the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau.

    Q: What about home cultivation?
    A: If you live in a state, like Colorado for example, that passes laws permitting citizens to grow for personal use you would be allowed to do so without running afoul of state or federal law. Federal permits and taxation apply to those engaged in commercial marijuana enterprises.

    145 Responses to “Everything You Wanted to Know About the New Federal Marijuana Legalization Measures”

    1. MIC says:

      knowledge is power what I would like to see is studies in the states that have legalized medical use ,tax revenues generated and the benefits to patients who use marijuana including quality of life compared to patients who use pharmacy drugs. these studies i think should be spread across the mass media available to all Americans. there is still a wide range of people who do not have access to the internet or cable TV. if we the People want to change Government Policies and get rid of the Politicians who block the will of the people, then every American needs to see the information. Knowledge is Power to the people

    2. VIC says:

      another good question is where will breeding fit in? good breeding tests require offspring studies of 1000 plants or more for genetic results.

    3. I have smoked marijauna for over 40 years. Including, while in jail for only a half of a gram. I just hope and pray that it is legalized!!!

    4. Stone Mountain says:

      Alex, with regard to your question about hemp, it is not addressed specifically by either bill.

    5. DK says:

      Will this protect workers in their workplace that consumes marijuana in the same way as alcohol ?

    6. Donald says:

      Boy, they smell a few $$$ and what an about face!

    7. Galileo Galilei says:

      It seems silly to group marijuana with alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, but it’s a damn site better than having the DEA classify it as schedule 1. Presumably this is to placate hardliners who still believe marijuana to be that dangerous.

    8. MpR says:

      Everyone needs to continue to email their state politicians daily to bombard them with emails stating we want freedom of choice as to what we put in our bodies. This should not be solely focused on medical use only, but on “Freedom of Choice” use as well. If I want to use it to enjoy it..who is the government to tell me I can’t? Its not effecting anyone else. Maybe we should ban tomatoes because the government does not like them either. This whole thing is just ridiculous. I never authorized the government to control my life.

    9. Anonymous says:

      The whole reason to take medicine is to feel better, whether it’s to cure depression, MS or to give hunger etc.. Pot IS medicine. It HAS medical value. The only thing we have to watch for is not to use it all the time for tolerance and to break bad habits. It has more good medical uses and fewer bad effects (none) than any other drug let alone legal drug. STOP thinking that pot is bad. It’s like if tobacco was made illegal. Imagine that. Cigarettes seem bad, don’t they?

    10. St. Nick says:

      The whole reason to take medicine is to feel better, whether it’s to cure depression, MS or to give hunger etc.. Pot IS medicine. It HAS medical value. The only thing we have to watch for is not to use it all the time for tolerance and to break bad habits. Pot has more good uses and fewer bad effects (none) than ALL other drugs be they legal or illegal. Imagine if tobacco was made illegal. Seems bad, doesn’t it?

    11. Ray DiPasquale says:

      I am still going underground, I still do not trust the government and their data banks.

      Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations.
      Milton Freidman

    12. Shawn Kearney says:

      @Galileo – What’s the alternative, the FDA? That would be an absolute *disaster*.

    13. Thoughts on methods says:

      Right now there is a movement to get money out of politics and the aim is get 75% of states to agree, thus bypassing congress. This is referred to as convention to propose amendments to the constitution. Perhaps in the near future 3/4ths of the states would agree on particular terms of marijuana legalization. For instance there could be particular constraints so that 3/4ths of states would be able to agree. At that point the states would be able to change the constitution to specially allow for those freedoms. This seems to be the fastest and easiest way to bypass Federal Government’s “interpretation” of marijuana legality.

    14. kevin says:

      Well I hope this goes through. My question is:If this passes will they release all those convicted of simple possession in states where it’s already ok for medical use?

    15. vast says:

      If It is legalized in all states and by the federal government will job drug testing still stand? I havent been able to enjoy a good smoke because of testing in twenty years and I wish they would move on this fast!! I feel its an invasion of my body and rights! As long as its on my time why should I have someone telling me what I can and cant do?!?!

    16. Jack Remington says:

      This is probably the STUPIDEST law on the books in America! It is based on lies, ignorance and racism. People were shocked about the book, 1984 because it told of cameras in people’s bedroom. How about the ones they want to shove up our butts?

    17. Jack says:

      Here’s a good essay comparing marijuana and alcohol.
      http://www.forum.jacex.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5

    18. D.S. says:

      THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS BILL. If this bill is passed now the states that have a medical marijuana policy will be more likely to pass a recreational use bill but for states with none it could be like the end of alcohol prohibition where some states took TWO DECADES or longer to legalize alcohol. While the states where people can back and smoke have fun the states that haven’t legalized it in 5 years will be subjected to harsher crack downs on growing and the price will be astronomical. Then you will have people take pounds of marijuana from legal states to illegal selling it for hundreds if not a thousand more a pound and while these people may get some through there will be people caught harsher crack downs and make it even harder to pass medical and recreational bills. This is not the end of prohibition in the 1930s today the let each state control its own outing of prohibition will not work because the federal and state government is much bigger.

      This bill would push along a few states to legalize medical or recreational use of marijuana but overall will make half(or less depending on current politicians)suffer a even harsher prohibition. That is if the states where medical and recreational use of marijuana are illegal can use the DEA to enforce the prohibition and the DEA doesn’t lose to much of its funding. This would overall cripple the goal of all states able to use marijuana with 32.02% of the population (2010 census by state) with access to medical marijuana and will cause a lot of people to feel the fight is almost if not done. For this bill to be acceptable the DEA would have to be forced not to interfere in states with no medical or recreational marijuana policies except for trafficking across state and international boarders. If this is not guaranteed there will be a gap of decades before we could see full medical marijuana legalization and longer for recreational use.

      This bill is to open for anyone to stick stuff in and not enough stuff in it to allow states that don’t have laws for marijuana to be pushed under the rug after the first 5 years. The stuff in this bill is good but not complete enough to be of really any use to anyone besides those living in the 18 states plus DC. For those like myself that live in the south that have politicians that are mostly republican and like my state Tennessee politicians can put up bills like schools have to tell parents if there kids engage in “homosexual” activities. There are to many moms and dads that if a politician publicly back medical or recreational marijuana they get dropped next term. While the people cant vote on a bill so its up to the politicians to do it and they are as slow as congress on these things. We need someone to break the south to get the ball rolling Tennessee is usually the last in first out on the kinds of things. THIS IS NOT THE BILL WE NEED this bill is like a lot of other things in congress made to put people in place so that things settle down and then they can go back to 45 minute sessions costing us thousands. We need a more complete bill that not only focuses on medical and recreational marijuana legal states but those that are illegal too. One that defines what the DEA and the new alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and marijuana can and can not do and planned decrease in budget for the DEA but the bill to do this will be harder to pass. Though in Tennessee the arrest rate for possession with out intent to sale (1/2 oz or less) is low while the huge busts are what they focus on but this means that more people have to grow or you have a lot more people selling very little at a time and its hard to find quality or quantity.(This is in my particular region of Tennessee this may not be the same for larger cities.) Those that have medical marijuana need this law while those that do not will not benefit much if not all.

      This could be the year Tennessee passes medical marijuana or it could go like last year but for those in illegal states with no plan to (re)introduce medical marijuana do not think this is the end or close you could face at least another DECADE if not more. This bill is a good bill but lacks whats needed to meet the cut for me as it does nothing but say the states can do what they want and we get money from it but that means it could pass congress but maybe one of the other 8 or more bills for marijuana supposed to be introduced this year will be better or build on this one.

    19. It’s about time. And it’s so simple.

    20. PvtYou says:

      What does this mean for the Military?

    21. NONE says:

      America IS becoming more FREE. Thank you President and all whom are working for peaceful solutions when problems arise. Mr. President has held his promise of REFORM.

    22. lockedoutofthefriggenshed says:

      cannabis has been a benefit to me. i am more relaxed in my mind to sort out the millions of thoughts that run thru it daily. it is comfort. i function better while using a small amount of it.(say…a quarter oz a week )and, i pay my taxes, work for a living and am good to my family and community. how the hell is that a problem?? 32 years of consuming in a responsible manner. now, because of random hair testing for four years by my employer, i am out of sorts and pissed off that they have a right to step in my private life not knowing or caring that it had improved my life. please, people…write letters, speak out to those who dont understand that this is wrong…..hey florida…where the hell are you ???

    23. sinsibility says:

      lockedoutofthefriggenshed- That’s awesome.
      Random hair testing- couldn’t be worse.
      I’ll bet you love your job and are paid well, but I couldn’t do it.
      I’ve decided that I’m not taking another drug test in my life- unless it shows whether I am under the influence at that very moment.
      The testing being done now doesn’t tell anything about current impairment, and give’s an employer an excuse to employ discrimination.

    24. anonymous says:

      some people are really losing site here.I just recntly returned home from working in mexico as a security contractor and was alarmed when i saw a response to taxing legal weed.At the prices you are atlking about it selling for and adding taxes to that all you are doing is sending people back to the street dealer. 1 kilo was selling for $4oo.oo south of the rio grande river,as soon as it comes across the river that price jumps to $400.00 a pound by the time it gets into western new york its $1800.00 a pound add on some hefty taxes and look out.we need to keep this affordable so that everybody can afford it and not get carried with letting every body tax it to the moon.greed will surely destroy the benefits of our fight to legallize it
      .

    25. Anonymous says:

      Response to Anonymous;

      Right now all the money vultures are lining up. There will be price confusion for a short time. But the market will adjust itself. Keep in mind, it’s still weed. There will always but high end smoke and just plan weed. First it needs to be federally legal.

      Save your seeds…plant more weed.

      Thanks NORML

    26. Stone Mountain says:

      February 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm – Anonymous

      Yup that’s yet another angle missed by most with H.R. 501.

      PvtYou –
      What does this mean for the Military?

      Unclear (as part of UCMJ reference the CSC) I believe HR 499 has verbiage stating nothing in the bill is meant to change any federal testing requirement, and as far I know (I could have missed it) while “marijuana” was removed from various places throughout existing USC it was not removed from 112a(b)1 of UCMJ.

    27. Stone Mountain says:

      BTW in reading the comments here it’s pretty clear very few have bothered to actually read the two pieces of legislation. Perhaps next time the blog author could link to it directly (not that the summary isn’t helpful for some I’m sure), both bills are around 25 or so pages and easily digestible even for those not accustomed to reading legislation.

    28. The drug testing issue is interesting. It has been focused on cannibs from the start. It has violated every constitutional right we ever thought about and the polititions fell right into play policing the population. This only deprived people from employment. From providing for his family. They actually thought they were saving the country by arresting peaceful citizens. All they did was destroy any faith the average person has in the government. I believe we need to crack down on political corruption with the same veracity. That would really be saving the country.

      Thanks NORML

    29. Lynelle says:

      I have also been smoking for about 40 years. I work, pay my bills, and do everything I’m supposed to do in this country, and regret the day I moved from Colorado. I signed the petition to get medicinal marijuana on the ballet, then moved. Maybe that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done related to weed. There is nothing wrong with marijuana, even if you don’t have a medical condition, and want to use it recreationally. I wish we could just make “them” understand.

    30. Kushness says:

      The People Have Spoken.

    31. People who toke will eventually move from states who do not legalize and the legal states will prosper and the ones who don’t will go broke and they will become ghost towns over 50% of the residents have already started the movement,a new trail of tears for mainly republican type. The US will be split like it already is in congress,with the new United States of Amerijuana,and the old United states of assholes.Lets lite one up!!!

    32. Bob says:

      Sounds like we need some lobbying of this senator from Pennsylvania (Mike Fitzpatrick) judging from the following response I got from him when asking him to support this legislation.

      First, I would like to thank you for contacting me regarding the issue of ending federal prohibition of marijuana, specifically H.R. 499. Your input is a vital part of the legislative process, and I appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

      Federal drug control efforts have been a public policy concern and the focus of legislative efforts for over a century. Although state and local governments actively participate and collectively provide the largest funding for national drug control efforts, the federal government has assumed a growing part of the responsibility for controlling such substances since 1914. The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013” (H.R. 499) would reverse this trend and limit the application of Federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana.

      Some say that Federal regulation of drugs is unnecessary because many states, such as Pennsylvania, already have statutes on the books that limit drug use. Furthermore, they argue that marijuana use, in particular, is an individual’s choice and that it should be regulated in much the same way that states regulate alcohol today. They say let the issue be decided by states and individuals.

      However, Marijuana impairs judgment, can cause fatal accidents, and, some believe, leads to the use of other more destructive narcotics. Marijuana also causes other devastating side effects such as cancer, respiratory diseases and the degradation of the immune system. There are also serious concerns when marijuana is used by women during pregnancy, such as increased incidences of leukemia, low birth weight and other abnormalities. The government has an important role in facilitating public safety. I believe that we must continue to maintain our balanced strategy of prevention, enforcement, and treatment.

      I understand the state’s rights and individual liberty arguments, but I am opposed to the full scale legalization of drugs. This bill currently sits before the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the House Judiciary Committee. I will be sure to continue to monitor its progress as we continue to debate the federal role in drug prohibition. And should this issue come before the house floor, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind.

    33. OLD FELLA says:

      If you folk want to make it legal be sure to be self po-lice-ing . Talk to those that drive stoned or tend to get in your face radical so you can be seen as responsible and community worthy citizens and break the taboo that past generations cast upon you. Personally- I don’t care for the stuff, however-I do believe you should be allowed to use it if you like-GOOD LUCK TO YOU ! {:~)>=

    34. RedFox says:

      I am gonna smoke marijuana whether thay like it or not .i am with you Johnny pot seed . FIRE IT UP AMERICA . thay sure can tost thire whiskey glass’s . so CHEERS Fellow Tokers

    35. Shane Hemingway says:

      I think marijuana is great medicine for alcoholics who want to quit drinking and save their liver.

    36. Anonymous says:

      Any talk of amnesty for prisoners inside for non-violent marijuana only drug offenses? While one pot-smoker is imprisoned, no pot smoker is free!

      [Editor’s note: Look to future article in ‘Skunk’ about reparations and amnesty regarding cannabis prisoners at the end of cannabis prohibition.]

    37. DNAprotection says:

      These bills provide the perfect opportunity for Monsanto et al to offer amendments in an attempt to do with cannabis what they’ve not yet been able to do with any other plant species = lobby for ‘safe’ FDA approved cannabis to be the only legally permitted cannabis etc and wouldn’t it be convenient if genetically engineered & patented cannabis was what FDA decided was ‘safe’ enough for approval?…just saying if I was running a biotech company thats what I would be lobbying for…its a ‘no brainier’ especially considering all the uses of cannabis, it makes corn look like a ‘weed’ in comparison and possible profit potential.

    38. Rusti says:

      PLEASE FEDERAL OFFICIALS PLEASE LEGALIZED IT SO THAT I CAN HAVE IT AND MY PAIN MEDS >i have WELL DOCUMENTED DISEASES AND SURGERIES, I have spinal disk degeneration in my entire spine. The Mj took me off all the other meds but pain. then i was told I had to give up the MJ for my pain meds. I quit the MJ I NOW TAKE I KID YOU NOT 26 PRESCRIPTIONS MULTIPLE TIMES ADAY. Alcohol and cigarettes are worse for you. Please for people like me who abide by the laws no matter how much distress it causes me. Please make me legal. I can hardly get up anymore I’m so doped up and I wasn’t on Medical Mj .I live in OREGON the VOTERS ok’d it. THE FEDERAL OFFICIALS HAVE NO BUSINESS IN IT. IF THE STATE OK’S IT PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE IT… NO matter what pain meds they take. It’s an UNFAIR choice!

    39. Kris says:

      Fuck it. Legal or not… I will continue to smoke it, and no one will ever tell me otherwise. I will grow my own if I so choose to in my own home. No one will ever tell me what I can and can’t do in my OWN HOME. I will smoke, and get high as a kite if I so choose, in my own home. I will invite friends over when I have some really good shit, and not one person from the government will ever tell me otherwise and expect me to comply. If I can grow it, I will do so. If I can burn it, I will do so. I will smoke and smoke untill the insides of my lungs turn black, if I so choose. Not a fucking law, nor word out of anyone’s mouth will stop me.

    40. brody says:

      Great article. Let the states decide.

    41. Instead of planting Marijuana at your house, why you don’t just planting air refreshing flowers instead?

    42. vern says:

      I am fortunate enough to live in a state that has pass MMJ. So the bill will be of aid to me. Been smoking for 30 years best thing for my Crohne’s and arthritis. I know I am not the only person this helps!! Just legalize it already so a better part of the USA can get the care they need without taking a pharmacy of meds every day!!!!!!!!!

    43. No-One-Wins says:

      The biggest reason that Medical or otherwise Legalized use of Marijuana will not be possible for most states because our government and Pharmaceutical companies would lose out on millions of dollars in funding by the end of the first quarter of the first year. The longer they leave it legalized, the more money gets taken away from Pharmaceutical companies, and the fewer graves are dun in cemeteries, because the manufactured drugs will not be killing nearly as many people. The government would also see huge losses in revenue, from not being able to arrest people for the use, sale of marijuana, decreasing the population of jail and prison cells, causing them not to have to raise taxes for the inmates we as tax payers provide entertainment, food, medicine, water, electricity, and other utilities for. Therefore, if it gets legalized, they lose, if not we lose. No-One-Win…!.!.!…

    44. No-One-Wins says:

      I hate Auto-Correct…

    45. Rui says:

      Does any one no how to get a federal permit to grow. Please let me no how some one goes about that. I live in california

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