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Colorado and Oregon congressmen pitch new federal pot framework

| Feb 24, 2015 | Articles, News

h/t Yahoo News

by Daniel Wallis

DENVER (Reuters) – Two Democratic U.S. congressmen from Colorado and Oregon introduced separate bills on Friday that would regulate marijuana like alcohol in states where it is legal and tax sales of the drug at the federal level.

Colorado voters approved the sale and possession of recreational marijuana by adults in a landmark ballot in 2012 while Oregon voters decided last fall to follow suit.

Pot remains illegal under federal law but President Barack Obama’s administration has given states that permit medicinal or recreational marijuana leeway in regulating its use.

The bill submitted by Representative Jared Polis of Colorado would replace the current federal prohibition model with a regulatory model similar to the one used for alcohol. It would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act.

The bill introduced by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon would tax marijuana at the federal level.

“Colorado has demonstrated that regulating marijuana like alcohol takes money away from criminals and cartels, grows our economy and keeps marijuana out of the hands of children,” Polis said in a statement.

“It is time for … a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Two other states, Washington and Alaska, also have voted to permit recreational marijuana use by adults.

Opponents say weed from states that have legalized it is being smuggled into those where it is still illegal. Late last year Nebraska and Oklahoma went to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge neighboring Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws.

On Thursday, two separate lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in Denver by Colorado residents who argue that legalized pot violates federal racketeering laws, hurts business and diminishes property values.

The office of Colorado’s attorney general has said it will vigorously defend all challenges to state law.

Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project, the largest U.S. pro-pot policy organization, praised Polis and Blumenauer for proposing a way forward and said that for decades Congress had ignored the nation’s “broken and outdated” marijuana laws.

“Their failure to let go of prohibition is causing serious problems for state governments and interfering in the lives of countless Americans,” Riffle said in statement.

“It’s time for our federal representatives to come to grips with the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol and most people think it should be treated that way.”