Judging by the apparent ineffectiveness our impotent Congress has been over the past few weeks at moving forward any sort of Legislation (seemingly unable to get anything done without creating some violent near Apocalypse intended to scare them into doing their jobs), it would be easy to assume that while the Economy crumbles, Corruption runs rampant, and the Chief Executive attempts to abscond with more and more of our civil liberties in his undying quest to keep us all safe, that Congress would have much bigger fish to fry than those outdated, futile, and increasingly unpopular (and difficult to defend when asked about it) Federal Marijuana Laws.
And if you were to assume as much, you would be assuming wrong…
US House Rep Earl Blumenauer, D- Oregon, and Rep. Jared Polis, D- Colorado, have crafted bills looking to change the Government's stance towards marijuana and its legalization.
The Polis Bill, based on a legislative effort originally drafted by long time Marijuana Law reform crusaders, former Rep. Barney Frank, D- Mass, and the powerful Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tx, would allow for the Government to regulate Marijuana the same way that it does alcohol.
According to the AP:
Polis' measure would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration and given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, and it would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it's legal to one where it isn't.
The Blumenauer Bill goes right after the Heart of Washington, as it is a realistic Bill explaining as to where exactly the Government gets to wet their beak on the Marijuana trade.
Again, quoting the AP:
Blumenauer's bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent on the "first sale" of marijuana — typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax pot producers or importers id="mce_marker",000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500.
While Blumenauer's office has not being able to give an exact estimate as to just how much money this would bring Washington's way, a policy paper that Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week (to coincide with Polis dropping his Bill on Tuesday, February 5th) claims that- while admittedly making a bit of an educated guess-timation on the exact figures, the Government would expect to get out of a $50/ ounce tax on the User could raise as much as $20 BILLION a year. (the Good people in the State of Washington have estimated that the legal sale of Marijuana could net the state a sweet half billion a year in taxes coming in, as opposed to the near billion they spend trying to bust small time dealers and recreational otherwise law abiding users).
Speaking on the matter, Rep Blumenauer stated" "You folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart… We're still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal. ... It's past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out."
And the hits keep on coming…
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D- VT, has stated that it is his intention to hold hearings on the conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana laws, as well as urging to put an end to the Federal "Mandatory Minimum" sentencing guidelines (which usually small long prison sentences on offenders).
As reasonable as the measures seem though, there is little belief that the measures will pass.
Citing previous efforts to end Federal Prohibition, Kevin Sabet, a former White House Drug Policy Advisor and current member of an anti-legalization group (along with former Rep. Patrick Kennedy and former GW Bush speechwriter David Frum) Project SAM (or "Smart Approaches to Marijuana)stated:
"These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana problem we have in this country. The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids, and 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."
Oh, and let's not forget the recent moves by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week to come out in support of efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on marijuana. (See??? Finally, some common ground that both of these increasingly worthless parties can maybe agree on…)
In a Wind of Change…
The change will be coming soon…
We have been telling ourselves that it seems like forever… that one day sooner or later our Government would see that there needs to be a change brought about in the way the Federal Government deals with marijuana.
And for a while, it seemed like just some pie in the sky hope (like no war or a smart and fair tax code)…
But that is starting to seem more and more of a reality.
But there is still much more to do.
This is going to take years to bring about a change in in the Laws.
Legalization moves, like the ones Colorado and Washington passed this past Election Day, are a good start; undeniable outcry by the populous to allow for an action to be engaged in that is in DIRECT violation of Federal Law. But it’s going to take the boring stuff now…
The emails (and their laughable robo-responses) and phone calls to yoru state and Federal Elevted officials, and the changing of your friends and neighbors’ hearts and minds over the matter.
And that’s the everyday work…
But it has to be done if we ever intend to change the laws in this country.
But change it we will, one step at a time.
And here goes the second one…