Oregon Congressmen Launch Bipartisan Path to Marijuana Reform

I had the honor of attending a press conference regarding cannabis banking legislation introduced by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer in 2015, after Oregon voted to legalize marijuana in 2014.

Oregon Congressmen, Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer, announced the introduction of three bills that will protect state cannabis laws and provide a path forward for the federal government to end the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. With a supermajority of American voters supporting medical cannabis and over a strong majority favoring marijuana legalization, it makes sense that we would start seeing more support for sensible reform legislation in the halls of Congress.

Unfortunately, most members of Congress seem to be about a decade behind the people on cannabis policy. Oregon is fortunate to have several federal elected officials that understand that the will of the voters should be respected and that marijuana prohibition has been an utter failure with disastrous consequences, especially upon people of color.

With the establishment of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, co-founded by two Republicans, Alaska’s Don Young and California’s Dana Rohrabacher, along with Colorado Democrat Jared Polis and Rep. Blumenauer, we are poised to see more pieces of legislation, and votes, chipping away at the failed War on Cannabis.Too many lives have been unnecessarily ruined, billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars have been wasted and we have diverted important law enforcement resources that would be better utilized combatting serious and violent crimes. A sincere thanks to all of the elected officials and advocates working to end Reefer Madness prohibitionist policies in our nation’s capital.

Press release from Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer:

WYDEN, BLUMENAUER ANNOUNCE BIPARTISAN PATH TO MARIJUANA REFORM 

Legislative package lays the foundation for responsible, comprehensive federal regulation of the marijuana industry

Empowers states to implement own marijuana laws

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., today introduced three pieces of legislation to preserve the integrity of state marijuana laws and provide a path for responsible federal legalization and regulation of the marijuana industry. The Path to Marijuana Reform includes the bipartisan Small Business Tax Equity Act, which prevents legal marijuana businesses from getting hit with an unfair tax bill. The package also includes measures to shrink the gap between federal and state marijuana policies and responsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana.

More than 20 percent of Americans live in states that permit adult use of marijuana. The industry is expected to produce nearly 300,000 jobs by 2020 and grow to $24 billion in annual revenue by 2025.

“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.” Sen. Wyden said. “This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard.”

“As more states follow Oregon’s leadership in legalizing and regulating marijuana, too many people are trapped between federal and state laws,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need change now – and this bill is the way to do it.”

The Path to Marijuana Reform includes the following three bills:

The Small Business Tax Equity Act

This legislation would treat state-legal marijuana businesses like other small businesses by repealing the tax penalty that singles out marijuana businesses and bars them from claiming deductions and tax credits. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., is a cosponsor of Wyden’s Senate bill and Representative Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is sponsoring companion legislation in the House.

Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act

This legislation would reduce the gap between federal and state laws by removing federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses complying with state law. It would also reduce barriers for state-legal marijuana businesses by ensuring access to banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research and advertising. It would protect individual marijuana consumers in states that have legalized marijuana by providing an expungement process for certain marijuana violations, ensuring access to public housing and federal financial aid for higher education, and ensuring that a person cannot be deported or denied entry to the U.S. solely for consuming marijuana in compliance with state law. Finally, it would remove unfair burdens by ensuring veterans have access to state-legal medical marijuana, and protect Native American tribes from punishment under federal marijuana laws.

Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act

This legislation would responsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana. It would impose an excise tax on marijuana products similar to current federal excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, escalating annually to a top rate equal to 25 percent of the sales price. Marijuana producers, importers and wholesalers would be required to obtain a permit from the Department of Treasury, and the marijuana industry would be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol. Strict rules would prohibit sale or distribution of marijuana in states where it is illegal under state law. Representative Jared Polis, D-Colo., is sponsoring a portion of this legislation in the House.

Text of the bills can be found here, here and here.

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 151 Articles
Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the Political Action Committee responsible for Oregon's Measure 91 cannabis legalization campaign and co-owner of Duff Johnson Consulting. As Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Anthony served on the state's initial Marijuana Advisory Committee and he continues to advocate for sensible policies that decrease unnecessary arrests, protect patients' safe access, and help small businesses. With Duff Johnson Consulting, Anthony helps cannabis farmers, processors, retailers, and ancillary businesses with licensing, compliance, public relations, and marketing. DJC clients include the International Cannabis Business Conference, the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, Cannabliss, Natural Roots, and numerous medical cannabis cultivators that provide free cannabis to patients in need.Anthony co-hosts the Let's Hash It Out podcast, available here on Weed News, at www.letshashitout.blog, Sound Cloud, iTunes, and Stitcher. Anthony's blogs on Weed News are personal and don't necessarily reflect the views of any organization or company.