Trio of Congressional bills seek major federal marijuana reform

Emily Gray Brosious

March 31, 2017: 9:02 AM CT

Compromise reached for Oregon medical marijuana dispensary ban bill(Image credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Corbis)

Legislative package targets path toward federal marijuana legalization.


U.S. Congressmen from Oregon unveiled a trio of bills on Thursday, March 30, that would protect state marijuana laws, reform marijuana enforcement practices and set a clear path toward federal marijuana legalization.

Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer announced the legislative package, titled the “Path to Marijuana Reform,” touting it as a measure that “lays the foundation for responsible comprehensive federal regulation of the marijuana industry” and “empowers states to implement their own marijuana laws.”

Wyden and Blumenauer both represent constituencies in Oregon, a state where voters have opted to legalize cannabis for both recreational and medical use.

Adults in eight states and the District of Columbia can legally consume marijuana, and patients in 28 states and D.C. can use the drug for medical purposes. The industry is growing and could be worth $50 billion by 2026, Bloomberg Markets reports.

More than 20 percent of Americans now live in states and territories that have legalized marijuana for adult use, and nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in states and territories where marijuana has been legalized for medical use, according to data compiled by Marijuana Business Daily.

All of this state-level activity is happening in the face of federal marijuana policy, which still does not recognize the legality of marijuana at any level. Recent comments from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer have stirred fears that the Trump administration could be planning to enforce federal marijuana laws in the states far more aggressively than the Obama administration did.

Despite the rhetoric of the Trump administration, a majority of Americans support legalizing cannabis. October 2016 Gallup polling showed 60 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana for adult use. And a June 2016 Quinnipiac University poll found 89 percent of American voters support medical marijuana use.

The “Path to Marijuana Reform” and other recent measures introduced in Congress, aim to implement protections for state-legal consumers, patients and industry members, in addition to ending federal cannabis prohibition altogether.

The most recent Congressional legislative package contains three bills:

  • The “Small Business Tax Equity Act” would repeal a tax penalty on state-legal marijuana businesses, which prevents them from claiming deductions and tax credits.
  • The “Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act of 2017” would reduce the gap between state and federal laws by eliminating federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture laws for state-legal marijuana activities. It would ensure access to banking services and bankruptcy protections for state-legal marijuana companies. It would also ease restrictions on marijuana research and advertising.
  • The “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act” would deschedule, tax and regulate marijuana products at the federal level.


Related slideshow:

Where House Judiciary Committee members stand on marijuana policy

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