If you thought the nation was already going to pot, get a load of a new pair of proposals in Congress that will gladden the hearts of libertarians and many liberals and irk many conservatives.
The Daily Caller reports that on Tuesday, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis introduced the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act (EMPA), which would remove pot from the schedule of controlled substances and prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from regulating it.
A second lawmaker, Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, proposed a bill that would impose a 50 percent excise tax on marijuana’s first sale from growers to retailers, as well as other taxes similar to those imposed on alcohol and tobacco.
Both men are Democrats, and both claim to be tapping into what they dub a “groundswell of public opinion” in favor of pot decriminalization.
If passed, EMPA would free states to set their own marijuana policies without the threat of federal intervention, which is currently the greatest hurdle to the pot industries in Colorado and Washington. Both states legalized the adult recreational use of marijuana by wide margins in November. Said Polis:
Americans have increasingly come to the conclusion that the drug war is a failed policy. Americans are sick and tired of the cost of the war on drugs, whether we’re talking about the financial costs in a time of deficits or whether we’re talking about the human costs.
Polis added that there has been an “enormous evolution” in public sentiment toward marijuana and that legalization is “an idea whose time has come.”
Speaking about his own proposal, Blumenauer boasted that his law would save the nation $100 billion over 10 years in law enforcement costs alone. Currently marijuana is classified in the most restrictive category of the Controlled Substances Act, Schedule I, alongside dangerous substances like heroin, GHB, and ecstasy. Drugs in this class are said to have no medical benefits and a high rate of addiction. The federal government has ruled on three separate occasions, most recently in 2011, that marijuana has no accepted medical use.
Yet 18 states have now passed medical marijuana laws, and in 15 of them, the penalty for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana is equivalent to a traffic ticket.
A Public Policy Poll from late last year revealed that 58 percent of Americans favor legalizing pot.
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