Congressman Vows Federal Marijuana Legalization Push in 2017

One of the leading proponents of marijuana law reform on Capitol Hill isn’t backing down in the face of possible threats from anti-cannabis Cabinet appointees in the Trump administration.

“I am renewing my call for Congress to remove its outdated and harmful federal prohibition on marijuana,” Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, wrote in an op-ed published online by the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday night. “Every Congress since 2013, I have introduced legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and leaves the decision to legalize up to the states, where it belongs. I plan to reintroduce the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the next Congress.”

(For unknown reasons, the piece was later taken offline, leading to a broken link. The cached version is still available.)

The most recent version of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, from the just-concluded 114th Congress, garnered 19 co-sponsors but was never scheduled for a hearing or vote.

As introduced last February, the bill transfers cannabis enforcement authority from DEA to a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives and to an Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana Tax and Trade Bureau. It also removes marijuana from federal scheduling and directs the Treasury Department to issue permits under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act for cultivating, packaging, selling and importing marijuana, giving the Food and Drug Administration the same authorities for cannabis as it now has for alcohol.

In the new Chronicle oped, Polis didn’t mention if or how next year’s version of the bill will be different, but he did express hope that the incoming Trump administration would follow through on campaign pledges to respect state marijuana laws even though many top appointees named to date are ardent legalization opponents.

“While it’s discouraging to see that the president-elect has picked an attorney general who is hostile to marijuana reforms, it is the president who sets the policies,” he wrote. “We must hold Trump accountable to what he has said in the past about marijuana legalization.”

In addition to introducing the standalone Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, Polis has also helped to lead efforts on other cannabis law reforms, including successful amendments to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

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