Congressional Democrats botch marijuana legalization
Congress is considering Democratic bill that would, supposedly, legalize marijuana throughout the country. While pursuing legalization is a good thing, the legislative path Democrats have chosen is so tangled and confused – and outright stupid — nothing is likely to pass.
Jacob Sullum writes the reason these bills Democrats have introduced in the House and Senate are likely to fail is because they “are chock-full of unnecessarily contentious provisions.”
And that’s putting it mildly:
…the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the House last year with support from just five Republicans and never had a chance in the GOP-controlled Senate, was 87 pages long. It called for new taxes, spending programs, and regulations that were apt to alienate Republicans who might otherwise be inclined to resolve the untenable conflict between federal pot prohibition and state laws that allow medical or recreational use.
The Senate version is even worse. To the point where we’re forced to wonder whether it’s an elaborate joke:
…state-licensed marijuana businesses, which already are regulated by state and local governments, would also be supervised by the Food and Drug Administration, the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The bill envisions detailed rules dealing with production, storage, transportation, packaging, labeling, advertising, and sales. It would establish a minimum national purchase age of 21, meaning states would not be free to set a lower threshold.
The bill would impose a federal excise tax on marijuana starting at 10 percent and rising to 25 percent by the fifth year, which would be in addition to frequently hefty state and local taxes. It would spend the resulting revenue on three new grant programs aimed at helping “individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs” as well as “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
This monstrosity isn’t going anywhere – and that’s a good thing, because this bill would do nothing except act as a subsidy to a black market for weed.
If this is the best Congress can do, then we’re better far better off leaving it to the states to expand marijuana federalism.