Update: Moments after sharing the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, a potentially groundbreaking piece of legislation co-sponsored by Colorado Representative Jared Polis, we've received more information.
Look below to see a statement from Polis on the bill, as well as a fact sheet laying out the basics about the measure.
"This legislation doesn't force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the eighteen 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," Polis said about the act, adding, "Congress should simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit and stop wasting federal tax dollars on the failed drug war."
Here's the aforementioned fact sheet:
ENDING FEDERAL MARIJUANA PROHIBITION ACT
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act seeks to protect the will of voters in Colorado, Washington and the seventeen other jurisdictions that have approved the consumption of marijuana for medical or recreational use by decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level and allowing each state to decide whether to permit marijuana consumption within its borders.
Specifically, this legislation:
• Removes marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act;
• Requires marijuana producers to purchase a permit, as commercial alcohol producers do;
• Ensures that federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and individuals who are involved in commercial sale and distribution; and,
• Reassigns jurisdiction of marijuana regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the newly-renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives.
Under this bill, states could choose to continue to prohibit marijuana consumption or production in their states, and the federal government would continue to work with states to prevent marijuana from being shipped into a state or territory in which it remained illegal. The federal permitting process would be used to protect consumers and offset the cost of establishing and maintaining a federal regulatory system. Any individual or business that produces marijuana in a way that is legal in its state is eligible for a permit.
Leaving the choice to allow or not allow marijuana consumption and prohibition to the states is an interesting move -- one that could potentially help those who back the measure garner additional support even as it complicates possible implementation. It suggests that Polis and company realize that, despite the passage of marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington this past November, getting a law passed at the federal level remains an uphill battle.
Continue to see our original post, including the complete Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013. Original post, 9:52 a.m. February 5: Representative Jared Polis has long been among the most progressive members of Congress on the subject of marijuana. Today, however, he's launching his most ambitious effort yet to reform pot policy, by introducing the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013.
A complete copy of the bill is below, but here are some of the basics.
The opening section of the document features "Amendments to Decriminalize Marijuana at the Federal Level." It begins with a call for the U.S. Attorney General to issue an order removing marijuana -- or "marihuana," as it's spelled in at least one instance -- from the Schedule I list encompassed by the Controlled Substances Act. The bill also calls for penalties associated with marijuana to be stricken from laws such as the National Forest System Drug Control Act of 1986.
Permitting of marijuana businesses under the act would be handled by the Treasury Department. Meanwhile, marijuana would be added to the Act of August 8, 1890, otherwise known as the Wilson Act or the Original Packages Act, which pertains in part to alcohol. An amendment would mandate the insertion of the words "or marijuana" after the phrase "intoxicating liquors or liquids."
Likewise, the bill states, "The Food and Drug Administration shall have the same authorities with respect to marijuana as the Administration has with respect to alcohol" -- and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be renamed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives."
The time frame for action after hoped-for passage? According to the text, "The Comptroller General shall conduct a review of Federal laws, regulations, and policies to determine if any changes in them are desirable in the light of the purposes and provisions of this Act. Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act the Comptroller General shall make to Congress and the relevant agencies such recommendations relating to the results of that review as the Comptroller General deems appropriate."
The document adds that "neither this Act nor any amendment made by this Act shall be construed to affect Federal drug testing policies."
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Polis is sponsoring the bill with Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer. We're expecting statements from both shortly. In the meantime, here's an early look at the measure.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Eighteen legislators ask feds to respect Colorado's Amendment 64."