THE WAR ON DRUGS HAS FAILED: DOPE Magazine Talks Marijuana Reform with Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Oregon politicians Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer have introduced three expansive bipartisan marijuana bills which, if passed, could set the tone for federal cannabis legislation.

Collectively labeled the Path to Marijuana Reform, these three bills would “spur job growth and boost our economy, all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard,” according to Sen. Wyden.

Here’s a quick breakdown of these three groundbreaking bills:

The Small Business Tax Equity Act

  • Cosponsored by Rand Paul, R-KY, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-FL
  • Legal marijuana businesses would be treated like any other small business
  • Tax penalty would be repealed, allowing deduction claims and tax credits

Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act

  • Ensures an end to previous oversights and barriers faced by legal marijuana companies, with “access to banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research and advertising”
  • Expunged records for “certain marijuana violations” in legal states
  • Medical marijuana made available for veterans
  • Federal law protection for Native American tribes selling legal cannabis
  • Consumption of marijuana no longer grounds for denied entry or deportation in the U.S.

Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act

  • “[R]esponsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana”
  • Excise taxes would be imposed, similar to the alcohol or tobacco industry

DOPE Magazine was able to get exclusive quotes from Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer regarding these bills.

DOPE Magazine: Where do you foresee your biggest pushback coming from in regard to these marijuana reform bills?

Congressman Blumenauer: The bigger story is who is supporting our efforts. We are gaining more support in Congress than ever before. This isn’t a partisan issue. Just last month, three of my colleagues (including two Republicans) and I launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in the House. At the end of the day, the War on Drugs has failed, and the American people want the federal government to get out of the way of state progress.

Senator Wyden: Senators are responsible for representing their entire state, and voters in 28 states have now approved medical or adult use programs. That includes states with some Republican representation, like Arkansas, North Dakota, Alaska and Montana. I think we’ll continue to see increased support for our approach from my colleagues in the Senate.

Q: Rhetoric from the Attorney General’s office has been pretty grim regarding the development of the cannabis industry. Why push this legislation now?

Rep. Blumenauer: Well, I’ve been pushing for reform for some time, but never have we been at such a moment. The November election showed us decisively that this is no longer a controversial issue with the American people. The movement continues to gain momentum, and we’re seeing success in regulated marijuana markets. Now, Congress needs to catch up.

Q: The DEA refused to re-schedule marijuana over the summer. However, your bills request the de-scheduling of marijuana completely. Do you see yourself as directly taking on the DEA?

Rep. Blumenauer: With growing evidence that cannabis has medicinal value, in what world does it make sense for it to be classified on the same level as heroin, or as worse than cocaine? It shouldn’t be on the schedule at all. Congress has the power to de-schedule marijuana, and that is what we are proposing.

Q: What do you see as the most crucial battle in these bills? De-scheduling, tax relief and protection or access?

Sen. Wyden: All these issues are important, which is why Rep. Blumenauer and I included them in our Path to Marijuana Reform, but we need equity for small businesses right away. These are legitimate Oregon businesses committed to their craft like brewers or vintners. Getting the federal government out of the way of states is the uniting point of all these bills. My sense is increasingly there are some in Washington, D.C. who say they favor states’ rights only to do so if they think the state is right. It’s time for opponents to stop cherry picking which states’ rights they like, and support the decisions voters in states like Oregon have made at the polls.

Q: Why do you think Oregonians and the Oregon cannabis market is a good example to use when pushing for federal reform?

Sen. Wyden: Oregon has always been a leader and an innovator, it’s the Oregon Way. My home state spent time learning from Colorado and Washington, and working to get it right. Oregon led the charge early on with decriminalization and legalizing medical marijuana, and now other states are following our lead to regulate and tax the market, just like with other legal businesses.


Originally published at Dope Magazine.

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