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  • 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.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director

    rethinklogohd1Members of Congress will introduce historic legislation today to permit for the regulated production and retail sales of cannabis to adults in states that have legalized its consumption.

    Representative Jared Polis, (D-CO) is sponsoring legislation that seeks to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

    Separate legislation to be introduced by Rep. Earl Bluemenauer (D-OR) seeks to establish a federal tax structure for retail cannabis production and sales.

    Both Representatives, along with drug policy reform advocates, will discuss these measures at a teleconference this afternoon.

    “When residents of Colorado and Washington voted to end their state’s prohibition on marijuana last November, it was a watershed moment for our nation’s move towards sane marijuana laws,” said NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, who will be speaking at today’s teleconference. “But there remains a lingering conflict between state and federal law. These historic measures seek to resolve this conflict and empower states to dictate their own marijuana policies, without fear of federal incursion. NORML would like to thank the Congressmen for taking this brave step forward and encourages their colleagues in Congress to join them in calling for sensible marijuana law reform.”

    Both Representatives have also released a report today outlining the need for federal marijuana law reform, titled “A Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy.” The report states that “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. It is past time to take action and stop this tragic waste in the future.”

    Members of Congress will also call for the establishment of a Congressional Working Group on Sensible Drug Policy.

    You can read the full text of that paper here.

    Please check back the NORML website later this afternoon for further details regarding today’s press conference.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 30, 2012

    United States Representatives have introduced bipartisan legislation in Congress — House Bill 6606, The Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2012 — to amend the US Controlled Substances Act to provide that federal law shall not preempt state marijuana laws.

    The measure is sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, and is co-sponsored by Reps. Blumenauer (OR), Coffman (CO), Cohen (TN), Farr (CA), Frank (MA), Grijalva (AZ), Lee (CA), Paul (TX), and Polis (CO). It has been referred to Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

    “I am proud to join with colleagues from both sides of the aisle on the ‘Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act’ to protect states’ rights and immediately resolve any conflict with the federal government,” said Rep. DeGette in a prepared statement. “In Colorado we’ve witnessed the aggressive policies of the federal government in their treatment of legal medicinal marijuana providers. My constituents have spoken and I don’t want the federal government denying money to Colorado or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens.”

    Added Rep. Polis, “The people of Colorado and Washington voted in overwhelming numbers to regulate the sale of marijuana. Colorado officials and law enforcement are already working to implement the will of Colorado voters, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and officials in the administration to deliver clear guidance that ensures the will of the people is protected.”

    House Bill 6606 states, “In the case of any State law that pertains to marihuana, no provision of this title shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of State law on the same subject matter, nor shall any provision of this title be construed as preempting any such State law.”

    While it is unlikely that members of Congress will address this measure in the final days of the 112th session, it is anticipated that Representatives will reintroduce the measure in 2013.

    Please visit NORML’s ‘Take Action’ page for updates on contacting your members of Congress regarding The Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2012.


    CLICK HERE TO WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director June 20, 2012

    Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) made some must watch reform video today when he grilled DEA Administrator, Michele Leonhart, over the relative health impacts of marijuana versus other drugs. Rep. Polis has been an outspoken advocate of marijuana legalization and was given the Rufus King, Sr. Award For Outstanding Public Leadership in the Field of MJ Law Reform at NORML’s 2011 Conference in Denver, at which he was also the keynote speaker.

    Click play below and watch pure drug war idiocy in action. Leonhart’s inability to answer simple questions would be humorous if the consequences of her position weren’t so tragic.

    YouTube Preview Image

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director August 1, 2011

    HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, is still awaiting a hearing assignment from either the House Judiciary Committee or the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The chairmen of these two committees seem content to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the will of the people on this issue, while simultaneously stonewalling the democratic process. The refusal thus far to allow HR 2306 its “legitimate debate” illustrates the frustrating side of national politics.

    However, the twelve co-sponsors who have since joined with HR 2306′s primary sponsor, Rep. Barney Frank, in supporting this bill show that not all lawmakers are content to watch tax dollars being frivolously thrown away while our citizens are being robbed of their civil liberties. We need more brave individuals to stand up and rally with them, which is why NORML is asking you to reach out to your elected officials and encourage them to co-sponsor this important legislation. With each legislator added to the list of co-sponsors, we are adding a new political ally and demonstrating the widespread support for our cause.

    Over the past 70+ years, the federal criminalization of marijuana has:

    1) Failed to reduce the public’s demand for or access to cannabis.

    2) Imposed enormous fiscal and human costs upon the American people.

    3) Promoted disrespect for the law.

    4) Reinforced ethnic and generational divides between the public and law enforcement.

    This debate is long overdue. It is time to rethink the leaf.

    Contact your Representatives today and tell them to stand with us and co-sponsor HR 2306.

    NORML would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Representatives Polis, Paul, Honda, Nadler, Conyers, Cohen, McDermott, Norton, Lee, Stark, Rohrbacher, Rangel, and, of course, Barney Frank for their support and advocacy of HR 2306.

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