Lawmakers from both parties have been working on a number of marijuana related bills, the first of which will be introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Representative Jared Polis of Colorado.
Blumenauer’s bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50% on the “first sale” of marijuana– which would likely be from a grower to a retailer. It would also tax marijuana producers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500 annually.
While his office did not have an estimate in terms of how much money these taxes would bring in, a policy paper estimates that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion per year.
Polis’ bill would regulate marijuana the same way the federal government regulates alcohol. States that legalize marijuana would have to obtain a federal permit. After obtaining the permit, the DEA would no longer oversee the state’s marijuana-related issues. Instead, the newly named Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Firearms would oversee the states’ programs. Additionally, it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a legal state to a state that has not yet legalized the drug.
Blumenauer and Polis are making additional suggestions in a paper they will release this week, including changing tax codes to allow marijuana dispensaries to deduct business expenses on federal taxes and altering regulations to make it easier for medical marijuana dispensaries to get bank accounts.
Blumenauer also intends to introduce another bill that would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to legalize marijuana without fear of federal repercussions.
Former White House Drug Policy Adviser Kevin Sabet believes these bills stand little chance of passing. “These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana program we have in this country,” he said. “The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids and a stigma of people who have a criminal record for marijuana crimes. There are a lot more people in Congress who think that marijuana should be illegal but treated as a public health problem than think it should be legal.”
Blumenauer and Polis follow in the footsteps of Representative Barney Frank and Representative Ron Paul, who submitted similar legislature in the past.