legal recreational marijuana
On Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) announced a legislative package they said will “preserve the integrity of state marijuana laws and provide a path for responsible federal legalization and regulation of the marijuana industry.”
The package, called “Path to Marijuana Reform,” includes three bills created to aid the legal recreational marijuana industry in states with legal recreational cannabis: the Small Business Tax Equity Act, the Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act and Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act.
According to a release from Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer, “More than 20 percent of Americans live in states that permit adult use of marijuana.”
In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated that the Trump administration may enforce federal marijuana laws in states where recreational pot is legal.
In that news conference, Spicer drew a parallel between legal recreational marijuana use and the opioid epidemic, saying, “I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing that we should be doing is encouraging people.”
In 2015 more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported that no people have died from cannabis overdoses.
In the statement Thursday, Sen. Wyden said, “The federal government must respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow legal recreational marijuana businesses to go to the bank just like any other legal business.”
“This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard,” he added.
Those three act address legal recreational cannabis in a variety of ways.
The Small Business Tax Equity Act “would treat state-legal recreational marijuana businesses like other small businesses,” meaning they would be taxed like other small businesses.
The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act would remove “federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses complying with state law,” and allow access to “banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research and advertising” for cannabis businesses.
This act would also provide an expungement process for “certain marijuana violations” in states with legal marijuana, and make it impossible to deport or deny entry to the United States to someone “solely for consuming marijuana in compliance with state law.”
The last part of this act would give veterans access to medical marijuana where it is legal and shield Native American tribes from being punished using federal cannabis laws.
The final part of the package, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, would “impose an excise tax” on cannabis products, similar to the tax currently on alcohol and tobacco products, “escalating annually to a top rate equal to 25 percent of the sales price.”
It would make marijuana regulated on a federal level, like alcohol is now, though state laws would prohibit sales in states where it is still illegal.
“As more states follow Oregon’s leadership in legalizing and regulating marijuana, too many people are trapped between federal and state laws,” Rep. Blumenauer said in Thursday’s statement. “It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need change now — and this bill is the way to do it.”