Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), two members of the newly founded Congressional Cannabis Caucus, introduced the bills, which end federal prohibition, allow states to decide whether to legalize, and impose federal regulations on cannabis businesses in legal states.
In an executive summary released this week, Senator Wyden and Congressman Blumenauer laid out their "Path to Marijuana Reform" which includes three bills created to lay the groundwork for federal legalization. The package also includes measures to shrink the gap between federal and state marijuana policies and responsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana. Wyden said, "The federal government must respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow law-abiding marijuana businesses to go to the bank just like any other legal business". Wyden said the new rules could spur industry growth and investment, which have been hampered by the looming threat of a federal crackdown - a threat that's gained traction since long-time marijjuana opponent Jeff Sessions became Attorney General. Most importantly, the bill would "exempt any person acting in compliance with state marijuana law from criminal penalties". "It's not right, and it's not fair". "We need to end, not expand the special interest big marijuana lobby".
Both Wyden and Blumenauer have introduced similar legislation in previous sessions with little success.
- The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act, meant to remove criminal penalties and asset forfeiture for businesses and individuals who are complying with state laws. A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Blumenauer.
The Small Business Tax Equity ActThe package of bills could result in marijuana being regulated like alcohol on a federal level.
Robert Capecchi, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, also said he supports the bills.
It would make marijuana regulated on a federal level, like alcohol is now, though state laws would prohibit sales in states where it is still illegal. Finally, it would remove unfair burdens by ensuring veterans have access to state-legal medical marijuana, and protecting Native American tribes from punishment under federal marijuana laws.
On one hand, it's encouraging for proponents of marijuana to see the legislatures of a number of states considering some form of legalization. "It's time for Congress to come to grips with the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and most Americans think it should be treated that way", Cappechi added.
"There is legal medicinal use where it is available on prescription, the recreational market, the homegrown market, which in turn spills into the illegal, unregulated, untaxed and unsupervised street market".
Spicer suggested that the Trump administration may consider enforcing federal marijuana laws in states where the drug is legal. Former White House drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, who now heads the anti-legalization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, told The Cannabistthat more marijuana legalization would have negative consequences.