Federal Bill to Legalize Marijuana Gains Support in Congress

700_2ef7fd99b8f9f594b39218a350dfbfa7This week, Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-District 1) joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level. Rep. Pingree, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, on Monday, joining a bipartisan group of supporters in the House.

There are currently 14 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 on February 5, which would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol at the federal level.

It would also remove marijuana from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and place it in the jurisdiction of a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.

“It is a very positive sign to see federal lawmakers finally coming around on this issue and supporting rational marijuana reforms,” said David Boyer, Maine policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“This comes at an important time, as the Maine Legislature will soon be considering taxing and regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. We are grateful to Rep. Pingree, as well as the rest of the congressional bill sponsors, who have expressed support for the rights of individual states to determine their own marijuana policies.”

“It makes no sense to punish individuals for using a substance less harmful than alcohol,” continued Boyer. “Instead, we should allow adults to use marijuana legally while regulating the production and sale of the substance. We will not only better control production and sales, but we will also create new jobs and generate tax revenue.”

In November, voters in Colorado and Washington State approved measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and directing state regulatory bodies to create regulations for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.

Bills to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol have been introduced this year in Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Maine state Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) has introduced a similar measure at the statehouse.

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While most of the real action and potential for progress is at the state level right now, it’s good to hear that things are starting to perk up at the federal level. Frankly, the state level initiatives have more chance of success right now, because when it comes to human rights, Congress works like the La Brea tar pits, more likely to suck you down and make you a meal for the prohibitionists than deliver the freedom Americans expect.

It may be too soon to shift significant resources to the federal level, but it’s the right time to either:

A. Thank the 14 Congress members most likely to qualify for inclusion in an update of JFK’s Profiles in Courage if they happen to represent lucky you.

B. If like most, you’re still represented by some hack who thinks the only way s/he can get reelected is to figure out new ways to imprison her/his fellow Americans and make sick people suffer more exquisitely, you need to call them and politely explain they need to support HR 499 if they want your support in the future.

( via thedailychronic.net