Two prominent politicians are pushing to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has introduced a bill to make weed legal. And former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, has announced the launch of an industry-funded lobbying group to advocate for legal marijuana.
Wyden’s bill, S. 420, would order the Drug Enforcement Agency to remove marijuana from its list of controlled substances within 60 days and would order merchants to collect excise taxes similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Merchants would need to get licenses to sell weed, and there would be restrictions on advertisement.
He also introduced bills to allow businesses in states where marijuana has already been legalized to take regular tax deductions and to open up access to banking services.
“The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced,” Wyden said.
Meanwhile, Boehner, who opposed marijuana legalization while serving as Speaker of the House but has since changed positions, will chair the industry-funded lobbying group, The National Cannabis Round Table. Boehner said such measures as access to banking are his group’s top priorities.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Several bills have been introduced in recent years to remove barriers to banking and capital, expand access to medical marijuana to veterans who receive federal health care, and move cannabis off the federal controlled substances list. But none passed, and Republicans routinely blocked marijuana-friendly amendments to other bills.
That could change with Democrats in control of the House. A committee hearing on banking services for marijuana businesses is scheduled for next week.
Boehner expects this Congress to be different from years’ past because more states are considering legalizing medicinal or recreational marijuana use – 33 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized it in some capacity.