Congress introduces bill to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol
It appears as if the writing is on the wall to once again legalize marijuana on the federal level. The Marijuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and made the possession of cannabis illegal after it had been legal since the founding of America. Like the Volstead Act or as it was called, the National Prohibition Act of 1919, which was legislation enacted to provide for the implementation of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which established national prohibition of alcoholic beverages, and was repealed in 1933, it seems that the Marijuana Tax Act will also be repealed.
Recent national polls suggest that a majority of Americans believe the federal government should not interfere in the implementation of state marijuana laws such as those approved in Washington and Colorado. This was documented by a USA Today/Gallup poll released in December that revealed 63 percent of Americans believe states have the right to legalize marijuana. Another poll conducted by Public Policy Polling from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 of last year showed that 58% of Americans think marijuana should be made legal.
This week, several members of Congress introduced bills to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, which would create a federal excise tax on the sale of marijuana similar to that imposed on the sale of alcohol as well as require occupational taxes for those engaged in the industry.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would remove marijuana from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level. In addition, it would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearm, and Explosives.
Just last year voters in Colorado and Washington State approved measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Just this week in Rhode Island, state Rep. Edith Ajello, D-Providence, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, announced she had introduced a bill to make marijuana legal for adults 21 and over and to establish a system of taxation and regulation for marijuana commerce.
Hawaii and New Hampshire state legislatures have introduced bills to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, with Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont are expected to bring forward similar legislation this calendar year.