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.


    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.

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

    1. I have operated truck for ten years and in 2014 I failed a random UA and had my commercial operation privileges removed after I legally purchased a joint in my own time and got high after I-502 was passed in washington. So I can live in your state and I can pay your taxes but I don’t have the right to keep my job and support my family. The Federal government states that I am unfit to operate a motor vehicle but my driving record states that I am safer than more than 75% of everyone who hold a license. Legalization of pot will allow us full functioning users to keep our jobs and give us rights regarding our employers

    2. 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

    3. No-One-Wins says:

      I hate Auto-Correct…

    4. 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…!.!.!…

    5. 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!!!!!!!!!

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

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