Republicans control every wing of American government — which means Republicans in Congress, from House Speaker Paul Ryan down to the lowest back-bencher, must give serious consideration to several serious marijuana-related bills introduced last week.
Support for cannabis and marijuana-related reform of outdated, unworkable, and incongruous federal marijuana laws is at an all time high. More than 60 percent of all Americans support marijuana legalization, and support for medical marijuana is even higher — above 90 percent, according to some polls.
With immense popular support for reform and considerable campaign contributions available from the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry — which is in desperate need of changes to allow access to banks, tax reform, and other needs — mainstream lawmakers can no longer deny cannabis’s value as a legitimate political issue.
Earlier this year, members of Congress from four states where cannabis is legal formed the “Cannabis Caucus.” Three of the bills introduced on March 30 come from caucus member Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Ron Wyden, both Oregon Democrats, who are calling the bills the “Path to Marijuana Reform.”
Here’s a rundown of what they are and what they do. There are six discrete bills; two of the bills are running in the Senate and House concurrently. Four of the bills are nearly identical in scope.
Small Business Tax Equity Act
Reforms the tax code to allow state-legal dispensaries to claim deductions and tax credits on their federal returns. Currently, marijuana businesses are barred from making many deductions thanks to a section of tax code called 280E. Both Wyden and Blumenauer are running their own versions; Blumenauer is sponsoring a third bill that would reform 280E. A fourth version, sponsored by Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, demonstrates bipartisan support.
Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act
Eliminates federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for “individuals and businesses” obeying state marijuana law. Allows marijuana users to live in public housing and access federal student aid. Allows marijuana users to enter the country legally. (Currently, visas can be denied for admitting legal marijuana use.) Allows veterans to access medical cannabis, and provides other basic protections enjoyed by law-abiding citizens and businesses.
Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act
Federal legalization! Removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. Allows for regulated and taxed sales.
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act
Also legalization! Sponsored by U.S. Rep Jared Polis (D-Colorado).
Would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.
Sound good to you? Any of it? If so, tell your elected representative — especially if he or she isn’t in a legal marijuana state. The flood of phone calls that swamped Congressional offices is absolutely a reason why Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed. Via this handy tool courtesy of our friends at Marijuana Majority, find your representative, find the requisite contact information, and exercise your democratic right!
TELL US, what other changes to the nation’s cannabis policies do you think should be introduced?