A Federal Pot Tax? Broad Effort Building in Congress to Change Marijuana Laws

An effort is building in Congress to change U.S. marijuana laws, including moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a federal pot tax.

While passage this year could be a longshot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills. The first such bill will be introduced Tuesday, said Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, one of the two Democratic congressmen behind it.

Blumenauer told The Associated Press that the measure being pushed by him and Jared Polis of Colorado would regulate marijuana the way the federal government handles alcohol: In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would move from the Drug Enforcement Administration to a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms. It would be illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it’s legal to one where it isn’t.

The legislators’ move follows last fall’s votes in Colorado and Washington state to legalize recreational marijuana, which Blumenauer argued should push Congress to end the 75-year federal pot prohibition.

“Folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart,” Blumenauer said. “We’re still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal. … It’s past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out.”

Advocates who are working with the lawmakers acknowledge it could take years for any changes to get through Congress, but they’re encouraged by recent developments, which include a softening of positions by some opposition Republicans.

– Read the entire article at the Montreal Gazette.