By Contributed
For the Sentinel 

Congressional members introduce marijuana measures

 


Thursday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators and representatives introduced seven measures to advance more consistent cannabis policy at the federal level. The bills covered a broad range of issues related to resolving the tension between state and federal cannabis laws. The move comes as the marijuana industry—still illegal under federal law—seeks to avoid a collision between states’ rights and federal authority over the issue, even as such a prospect looks increasingly likely.

"The flurry of bills on the Hill today are a reflection of the growing support for cannabis policy reform nationally," said National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) executive director Aaron Smith. "State-legal cannabis businesses have added tens of thousands of jobs, supplanted criminal markets, and generated tens of millions in new tax revenue. States are clearly realizing the benefits of regulating marijuana and we are glad to see a growing number of federal policy makers are taking notice."

The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017, introduced in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), would allow state-legal cannabis businesses to take normal business deductions like any other legal business. Currently, the law prohibits cannabis businesses from deducting expenses related to sales.

"Cannabis businesses aren't asking for tax breaks or special treatment," said Smith. "They are just asking to be taxed like any other legitimate business. NCIA and its members appreciate this strong support for a fair approach, and we're especially proud to newly gain that support from Rep. Curbelo."

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), would regulate marijuana like alcohol by inserting marijuana into the section of the U.S. Code that regulates "intoxicating liquors." It would give oversight authority to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and would establish a permitting system to cover the cost of that oversight.

The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap (RAMP) Act, introduced by Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer in their respective chambers, covers a broad range of issues at the federal level, including banking and tax fairness for businesses, civil forfeiture, and drug testing for federal employees. The two Oregon officials see the provisions in this bill, collectively, along with the other two bills introduced today, as the "Path to Marijuana Reform."

The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Blumenauer, would establish a federal excise tax on cannabis, starting at 10 percent and rising to 25 percent in the fifth year after passage.

The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, introduced by Sen. Wyden, contains the provisions included in the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act and the Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

 

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