Tag Archives: Federal

Federal Reform Bills Gaining Attention

In the wake of the introduction of federal marijuana reform bills on February 5, the national media has started paying closer attention to the possibility of change in the coming years. One example is this interview with MPP’s director of government relations, Steve Fox:

Such bills have come before Congress in the past with less fanfare, but it seems like this time they are being taken more seriously. Perhaps the fact that voters in Colorado and Washington decided they were sick of marijuana prohibition had something to do with it:

Members of Congress Introduce Historic Bills

Ask Your Rep. To End Prohibition!There’s some big news coming out of Washington, D.C.: On Tuesday, congressmen from Oregon and Colorado introduced two historic federal marijuana reform bills to Congress.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013. If passed, the bill would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and institute a system similar to the alcohol regulatory structure that federally regulates marijuana. It would also transfer jurisdiction over marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

Please take a minute to contact your representative today and encourage them to support the bill to regulate marijuana like alcohol at the federal level.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Marijuana Tax Equity Act, which calls for an excise tax of marijuana at the federal level. It also requires the IRS to develop a steady understanding of the industry. After the first two years, and every five years following, the IRS would produce a study of the trade, offering recommendations to Congress so as to improve upon the administration of the tax. Who ever thought that the words “IRS” and “taxes” would be cause for celebration?

The introduction of these bills was largely inspired by the passage of legalization initiatives last November in Colorado – where MPP provided most of the funding for the campaign – and in Washington state.

Reason-Rupe Poll: Most Americans Support Treating Marijuana Like Alcohol, Federal Non-interference

A national poll released this week by Reason Magazine found that a majority of adults want to see marijuana reform, and that they want the federal government to respect state laws concerning marijuana.

Continue reading Reason-Rupe Poll: Most Americans Support Treating Marijuana Like Alcohol, Federal Non-interference

Another Victim of the Government’s War on Marijuana

Matthew Davies

Today’s New York Times includes a feature story about California medical marijuana provider Matthew Davies, who federal prosecutors are pressuring to accept a five-year mandatory minimum as a plea agreement. Federal authorities indicted Matthew last year on charges of marijuana cultivation, calling him “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.” By all accounts, the two dispensaries Matthew owned were in total compliance with state law and were models of professionalism and service.

He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.

“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” [his attorney] wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”

Does this sound like a dangerous criminal who we should spend federal resources to arrest, prosecute, and possibly jail? Medical marijuana providers who followed state law, like Matthew, weren’t supposed to be the targets of federal attack and provide an excellent example for others in the industry. Nevertheless, he is facing a significant amount of time in jail regardless of whether he takes the plea, which will surely take a serious toll on him and his family.

“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison.

Matthew and his family are not taking this lying down. Matthew’s wife Molly published this open letter to President Obama today in the Huffington Post. You can find out more about Matthew’s case and how you can help at http://www.keepmattfree.org/.

Washington Marijuana Law Takes Effect Tomorrow

On this day in 1933, Congress responded to the growing number of states and citizens who decried the failed war on alcohol by ratifying the 21st Amendment. By effectively repealing federal alcohol prohibition, this historic event allowed states to determine the best way to deal with alcohol without interference from the federal government.

Tomorrow, history will begin to repeat itself as the ballot measure approved by voters in Washington officially goes into effect, making it the first state to remove all penalties for marijuana possession by adults. The federal government would be wise to learn from history and do what it did 79 years ago: get out of the way.

When it comes down to it, marijuana prohibition and alcohol prohibition are nearly identical, both in their intentions and in their failings. Both products are popular, and both prohibitions cause great harm to society. The laws that put non-violent alcohol users in prison and enriched violent gangsters like Al Capone are eerily similar to those that have destroyed the lives of millions of otherwise law-abiding marijuana consumers and propped up the cartels responsible for the daily violence south of the border.

Despite the glaring similarities with alcohol prohibition, there are still many government officials who simply do not see the parallels and insist that we cannot let responsible adults purchase marijuana – a far safer product than alcohol – from legitimate businesses instead of in the underground market.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the position of the U.S. Department of Justice, but we have yet to learn how, or if, they will push this position in states that choose a different, more rational path.

Washington’s new law will allow individuals 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana without penalty, fine, or arrest. Therefore, as of tomorrow, adults will no longer be persecuted simply for choosing to consume marijuana. It is now up to the state to create a system to tax and regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana so that this lucrative market can be properly managed, instead of being left in the hands of criminals without quality control or oversight.

The federal government should not interfere. It made that mistake when it tried to enforce federal law in states that had removed alcohol penalties, and the result was unnecessary suffering at the expense of states’ rights, vast amounts of money, and individual liberties.

The Obama Administration should not make the same mistake.