Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Now that the new congressional term is underway, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) have launched a new effort to end marijuana prohibition in the United States. Both are introducing bills that together would end marijuana prohibition and turn it into a well-regulated market.

Polis put forward the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act which would have marijuana treated much like alcohol is as a result of the 21st amendment. It would remove the Drug Enforcement Agency’s authority over marijuana and transfer it to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Individual states would be given the option to legalize marijuana or not.

Blumenauer has introduced the Marijuana Tax Equity Act. It would create a federal regulatory framework for marijuana in states that have legalized it. The industry would be subject to regulation and heavily taxation.

Together, Polis and Blumenauer have put out a new report The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy explaining the logic behind their new push.

While it is unlikely that these bills will be adopted this year, it is good to see that Blumenauer and Polis have stepped up to champion the issue at the federal level. Recently, Congress lost two of its most vocal advocates for marijuana reform when both Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) decided to retire last year.

Even if the bills are probably doomed this legislative session, the effort could still have an impact on how federal authorities decide to deal with the federal-state conflicted created by voters choosing to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington State.