WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee Representative Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., today introduced three pieces of legislation to preserve the integrity of state marijuana laws and provide a path for responsible federal legalization and regulation of the marijuana industry. The Path to Marijuana Reform includes the bipartisan Small Business Tax Equity Act, which prevents legal marijuana businesses from getting hit with an unfair tax bill. The package also includes measures to shrink the gap between federal and state marijuana policies and responsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana.
More than 20 percent of Americans live in states that permit adult use of marijuana. The industry is expected to produce nearly 300,000 jobs by 2020 and grow to $24 billion in annual revenue by 2025.
“The federal government must respect the decision Oregonians made at the polls and allow law-abiding marijuana businesses to go to the bank just like any other legal business.” Sen. Wyden said. “This three-step approach will spur job growth and boost our economy all while ensuring the industry is being held to a fair standard.”
“As more states follow Oregon’s leadership in legalizing and regulating marijuana, too many people are trapped between federal and state laws,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “It’s not right, and it’s not fair. We need change now – and this bill is the way to do it.”
The Path to Marijuana Reform includes the following three bills:
This legislation would treat state-legal marijuana businesses like other small businesses by repealing the tax penalty that singles out marijuana businesses and bars them from claiming deductions and tax credits. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., is a cosponsor of Wyden’s Senate bill and Representative Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is sponsoring companion legislation in the House.
This legislation would reduce the gap between federal and state laws by removing federal criminal penalties and civil asset forfeiture for individuals and businesses complying with state law. It would also reduce barriers for state-legal marijuana businesses by ensuring access to banking, bankruptcy protection, marijuana research and advertising. It would protect individual marijuana consumers in states that have legalized marijuana by providing an expungement process for certain marijuana violations, ensuring access to public housing and federal financial aid for higher education, and ensuring that a person cannot be deported or denied entry to the U.S. solely for consuming marijuana in compliance with state law. Finally, it would remove unfair burdens by ensuring veterans have access to state-legal medical marijuana, and protect Native American tribes from punishment under federal marijuana laws.
This legislation would responsibly de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana. It would impose an excise tax on marijuana products similar to current federal excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, escalating annually to a top rate equal to 25 percent of the sales price. Marijuana producers, importers and wholesalers would be required to obtain a permit from the Department of Treasury, and the marijuana industry would be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol. Strict rules would prohibit sale or distribution of marijuana in states where it is illegal under state law. Representative Jared Polis, D-Colo., is sponsoring a portion of this legislation in the House.