Colorado Rep. Pushes for Federal Marijuana Legalization

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U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., announced that he introduced legislation on Tuesday that would de-federalize marijuana and create a framework for federal taxation of cannabis. The bill, that was co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., would follow Colorado's model of regulating marijuana like alcohol. Here are the details.

* "This legislation doesn't force any state to legalize marijuana, but Colorado and the 18 other jurisdictions that have chosen to allow marijuana for medical or recreational use deserve the certainty of knowing that federal agents won't raid state-legal businesses," said Polis.

* Polis added that Congress should "simply allow states to regulate marijuana as they see fit" and stop spending money on pursuing arrests and convictions of those using or selling marijuana.

* Polis stated that the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act and its companion, the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, would follow Colorado's regulations, requiring marijuana producers to purchase a permit as commercial alcohol producers do and to impose an excise tax on the first sale of marijuana. An occupational tax would also be imposed on those operating in marijuana.

* The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and would reassign jurisdiction of marijuana regulation from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives.

* The measure would require the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that and issue recommendations to congress about how to improve the administration of the tax.

* In Colorado, voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012 with 55.3 percent of the vote, making it legal for someone 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana or grow up to six plants for personal use, wrote Polis and Blumenauer in a study they released along with the introduction of the legislation.

* In Colorado, marijuana facilities are authorized to grow and sell marijuana with state licenses, with taxes limited to 15 percent of the wholesale price of the product through 2017.

* According to the Denver Post , this is the latest attempt by Polis to help an industry that is legal in Colorado but against federal law.

* In 2011, Polis introduced a law allowing banks to carry business accounts of medicinal marijuana distributors without facing federal prosecution. However, that bill never got a vote, the Denver Post reported.

* In November, following the passage of the law legalizing recreational-use marijuana in Colorado, urged Attorney General Eric Holder and Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Michele Leonhart in a letter to take no federal action against citizens acting in compliance with the marijuana laws of Colorado and Washington -- which also voted for marijuana legalization.

* "The voters of these states chose," Polis wrote, "by a substantial margin, to forge a new and effective policy with respect to marijuana. The tide of public opinion is changing, both at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country. We believe that the collective judgment of voters and state lawmakers must be respected."

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