National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Proposed
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and two of those states have legalized marijuana for personal use. Many more states are currently considering medical marijuana and/or the decriminalization of marijuana initiatives. However, despite the widespread changes on the state level, federal prohibition has remained the same. This continues to create conflicts between states and federal laws. Right now, even some states that have passed medical marijuana laws are waiting to implement them until they get a decision from the Feds.
On April 18, 2013, Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced legislation that would create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy (the “Commission”), named House Bill 1635 (HB1635).
Under HB1635 the commission would undertake to make a review of the current policies of the federal government towards marijuana. This proposed Commission would consist of 13 members: five to be appointed by the president; two to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; two to be appointed by the House minority leader; two to be appointed by the Senate majority leader; and two to be appointed by the Senate minority leader.“Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal policy and address the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana,” said Congressman Cohen. “This conflict is only going to continue to grow over the next few years and we must provide certainty to the millions of individuals and businesses that remain caught in a web of incompatible laws. A national commission would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.”
This comes on the heels of recent polls that a majority of Americans believe marijuana should be taxed and regulated like alcohol. A recent Pew Research Poll found that 52 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be made legal. Of interest, this is said to be the first time in 40 years that a majority has been in support of marijuana legalization.
HB1635 proposes further that the Commission would study: (1) to reconcile federal marijuana laws and state marijuana laws; (2) consider the cost of marijuana prohibition and the cost of regulation of marijuana as compared to the potential revenue that could be generated by the taxation of marijuana; (3) consider the impact of federal banking and tax laws on those businesses operating in compliance with state marijuana laws; (4) evaluate the health impacts, both benefits and risks, related to marijuana use in comparison to alcohol and tobacco use; (5) to compare what the domestic and international public safety effects of marijuana to the potential regulation of marijuana; (6) consider the impact of marijuana prohibition on criminal justice, including any racial disparities, and the consequences of prosecution for marijuana possession; (7) review what is the appropriate place marijuana should have in the schedule of the Controlled Substances Act; and (8) how marijuana prohibition, as compared to the future regulation and control of marijuana, might affect international relations and treaty obligations.Joining Rep. Cohen in backing the bill are cosponsors Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Jared Polis (D-CO).
This is a great step towards reconciling state and federal laws. It is time for the federal government to listen to the majority of those people who are supportive of the regulation and taxation of marijuana and want to see marijuana laws changed. Let your house of representatives congressman hear your voice by asking them to support HB1635. Pass it on!