As Colorado lawmakers attempt to figure out the federal government's stance on Amendment 64, a potential light at the end of the tunnel popped up on Tuesday. Representatives Jared Polis and Earl Blumenauer unveiled the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, a measure that would effectively decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The bill is being introduced in response to what Polis called the "enormous evolution of American opinion."
According to Polis, who joined Oregon rep Blumenauer for a teleconference yesterday afternoon, "Americans have increasingly come to the conclusion that the drug war is a failed policy. We need to address it as a public health issue rather than a security issue."
The bill would not affect the current legal status of marijuana in any jurisdiction. Rather, it would allow states that have voted to legalize medical or recreational marijuana to implement regulations without fear of prosecution from any part of the federal government, including the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Blumenauer echoed Polis' statements, agreeing that states should be allowed to regulate marijuana how they please without having to worry about the federal government. He referenced President Obama's statement that he had "bigger fish to fry."
"Point in fact, down the federal drug enforcement food chain, there are still people who are frying those fish," Blumenauer said. "This is the Congress that we need to step up and tackle these problems head-on."
Though both Polis and Blumenauer stressed that there is bipartisan backing for the bill, they were unwilling to reveal any specific names. Instead, they referenced "growing support for the bill," adding that there are "about twenty people who are going to play a more active role" as the proposed bill moves forward.
Polis said he is optimistic about the bill because public opinion has shown that a large percentage of voters believe marijuana regulation should be up to the states. However, he cautioned that the process is in its early stages
"We're in the process now of getting started," he said. "We're dealing with an area where hard numbers are not available and where we are still refining approaches."
Look below to see a fact sheet about the act, provided by Polis' office, as well as the bill itself.
Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 fact sheet:
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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.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013: Read Jared Polis-sponsored bill."