Congressman Vows Federal Marijuana Legalization Push in 2017


One of the leading proponents of marijuana law reform on Capitol Hill isn’t backing down in the face of possible threats from anti-cannabis Cabinet appointees in the Trump administration.

“I am renewing my call for Congress to remove its outdated and harmful federal prohibition on marijuana,” Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, wrote in an op-ed published online by the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday night. “Every Congress since 2013, I have introduced legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and leaves the decision to legalize up to the states, where it belongs. I plan to reintroduce the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the next Congress.”

(For unknown reasons, the piece was later taken offline, leading to a broken link. The cached version is still available.)

The most recent version of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, from the just-concluded 114th Congress, garnered 19 co-sponsors but was never scheduled for a hearing or vote.

As introduced last February, the bill transfers cannabis enforcement authority from DEA to a renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms and Explosives and to an Alcohol, Tobacco and Marijuana Tax and Trade Bureau. It also removes marijuana from federal scheduling and directs the Treasury Department to issue permits under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act for cultivating, packaging, selling and importing marijuana, giving the Food and Drug Administration the same authorities for cannabis as it now has for alcohol.

In the new Chronicle oped, Polis didn’t mention if or how next year’s version of the bill will be different, but he did express hope that the incoming Trump administration would follow through on campaign pledges to respect state marijuana laws even though many top appointees named to date are ardent legalization opponents.

“While it’s discouraging to see that the president-elect has picked an attorney general who is hostile to marijuana reforms, it is the president who sets the policies,” he wrote. “We must hold Trump accountable to what he has said in the past about marijuana legalization.”

In addition to introducing the standalone Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, Polis has also helped to lead efforts on other cannabis law reforms, including successful amendments to prevent the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)


  1. any laws on marijuana should be a hate crime against GOD THE BIBLE AND HUMAN RIGHTS we are a country that believes and trust in GOD the first page of the BIBLE is ALL SEED BARING PLANTS AND HERBS OF THE EARTH not hand cuffs and bars the government is for man made habit forming and kills you

    • cigars, chewing tobacco, cigarettes, Oxycontin ( from opium) and many more life saving drugs are against what you believe. Why did your god put oil on the earth? Life kills, autos kill, trains, planes and many more things kill. Your belief is yours, get out of my life.

    • What it says is NOT located on the first page. Educate yourself before stating what someone else told you. Try reading the first book in the bible, verse 29.

  2. The fossils still in congress will no doubt will act as roadblocks to progress. Good luck in getting a real chance at being heard much less getting any thing positive to pass.

    • In its support for the anti-American, Orwellianly-named “Patriot Act”, Congress shown itself the enemy of the American People and Constitution — joining the treason of the Executive and Judicial Branches. Most people living in this country are unaffiliated with either of the criminal political organizations that turned “the land of the free” into the world’s leading jailer, objectively the least free on Earth. The leaders of the Fascist and Collaborationist Parties should be running, but not for any elective office in this country!

  3. Good. The central problem is the Controlled Substances Act itself and the designation of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. Carving out exceptions from other federal laws for those states which have partially legalized cannabis distracts from the critically important task of descheduling cannabis (although Rohrabacher-Farr may be medicinal cannabis’ only bulwark against the fascist prohibitionists of a Rump administration — should he survive to take office).

    • The classification is not based on science or logic… The dea needs to justify it’s existence and busting people for weed also enables them to strip you of your 2nd ammendment rights. If you have an mmj card and you posess firearms you can have them taken away and you can not legally purchase a firearm. This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with justifying the exsitence and size of a government department and a loop hole to f$#^ a person that they have a hard on for.

  4. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Thanks for all of your hard work in 2016, Tom Angell. Your coverage of pro-cannabis activity among federal lawmakers (or the lack thereof) is impeccable and serves as a vital contribution to our knowledge.

    The same applies to the lovable efforts of Allie Beckett, whose mesmerizing marijuana pictures warm my heart every time. The only thing we have to fear about cannabis is the fear of these beautiful plants itself!

  5. Regulation can be a good thing. It legitimizes a business and allows regulators to pass policy, which in under the right conditions, gives financial institutions the ability to bank the industry. Currently the space is in a “void” where as it operates legally in states but is treated as a wicked step child by banks because of a lack of regulation. Once regulated, these establishments will most likely have to implement strong anti money laundering policy and at that point should become welcome customers to the financial main stream. Regulation should be welcome as it will open the doors to the long road of de-risking and allow the mj space to finally operate main stream.

    • Robert, I agree 100%. The decriminalization of cannabis is inevitable. Those politicians who fail to grasp the inevitability of pro-cannabis will fail in their election campaigns. Regulate it, tax it, allow it… Jer Trihouse and

  6. Maybe Congress should bring in some Cannabis brownies, then decide how they feel about marijuana reform. This plant has so many uses and so few negative side effects. We need to end this failed prohibition farse

  7. I’m convinced the Prohibitionists are all severely demented and bi-polar evil scientists without a cause, but won’t seek help for their mental illness. Maybe they just need a drop of RSO each day.

    • Be careful what you say about bi-polar and mental illness, it’s always the weak, scared and clueless that make fun of this unasked for mental illness. So sick of being compared to a crazy demented non person by you non educated past the 2nd grade, weirdo, probably have never met a bi-polar person cause you’d know there more normal than what your so called normal person is. And not to mention we get the medical marijuana card and can smoke to our hearts content while you asshole narrowminded little nothing of a uncreative weak ass minded freak has to get it illegaly( and I hope u get busted)or has to lie his ass off that you have a mental illness to even get close to getting the marijuana card. And on that note have a great day!!!

  8. We have been trying to convince a Lobbied & Bought group of Lawmakers to look at & treat Cannabis like Alcohol, ever since I began advocating for Cannabis I have always wondered Why? They are 2 very different Products and the Alcohol Industry is 2000% against the Cannabis Industry but we want to lump them together and to add insult to injury we put a States Liquor Board as Cannabises Overseer/Regulater/RulesMaker, to me this is insanity! It’s also a slap in the Face to all the advocates that have been fighting for forty, fifty years for Cannabis to be free from the Bars of an Illegal Prohibition on its own, the only matter they share is Prohibition. It didn’t work for one and it isn’t working for the other!!!

    Now we are into 2017 with a very unsettling future looming for America and for Cannabis all Thanks to President Elect Trump and his pick for Attorney General, sleezy scumbag Sessions!!! But, Trump is a Businessman and the “Cannabis Experiment” has turned into a full fledged Exploding Billion Dollar Industry!!! It is finally time that CANNABIS owns its own seat at the Business and Jobs table and I just don’t believe Trump is going to allow Sessions to squash Billions of Dollars but just what will he do, that’s the $64,000 question in today’s time.

  9. i live in Virginia i think it should be legal for all states it can help us more then hurt us it cost more the tax payer more money try to fight it and put people in prison for it how can you divide america legal and illegal per state uses of marijuana let america be choice free choose if they want to uses marijuana let it be the people choice you got my vote.

    • Just north of you in Maryland. It would be nice if this state would go legal, to go with the Medical we’ve had for, going on, three years, and is not yet operational. WTF Maryland!?! This is the slowest rollout of any state! To make matters worse there’s no home grow allowed

  10. Just north of you in Maryland. It would be nice if this state would go legal, to go with the Medical we’ve had for, going on, three years, and is not yet operational. WTF Maryland!?! This is the slowest rollout of any state! To make matters worse there’s no home grow allowed

  11. I’d much prefer a “Regulate Marijuana Like TOMATOES Act.” Alcohol is something that’s been fermented or distilled and can be dangerous in excess. Cannabis is NATURAL and HARMLESS.

    • Really interesting responses on regulation from hate crimes to tomatoes. There are plenty of things that are considered harmless. Red Meat and Bacon are harmless (at least I would like to think so) but the USDA regulates as nobody wants poison meat on their dish.

      There is a regulation that I cannot drive more than 65 MPH. Though I despise cruising under 90, I realize in the back of my mind that doing so could kill me and countless innocent people, so, though driving fast is good (as far as I am concerned) there are speed limits for a reason.

      there are 10’s of thousands of regulations from city to county to state to federal. We as a society have learned to deal with them no matter how obscene they might be.

      I appreciate that over regulation is not a good thing. But, regulation in whole can do so much. It can stop the flow of money laundering (or deter) it can help establish market values, it can ensure that you can’t sell rat poop tainted weed, it can ensure that certain age groups cannot purchase etc etc etc. So to say a blanket no to regulation doesn’t make sense.

      I say work with the regulators and regulate to protect the future of the industry and ensure the legitimacy of those in the space.

  12. We the People create Law of the U.S.A. to legalize all three recreational marijuana use, hemp industry and cannabis medical. We the People create Law and A.G. Sessions must follow it but he must not decide it. We the People must to make new Law for all 50 States in U.S.A. that is no drug test Law because of marijuana will hide in foods and drinks in the Restaurant and we will not know it. We must protect our rights. Federal Marijuana Legalization must to end whole federal marijuana probation. We do concern about Nuclear Bomb because Government legalized Nuclear Bomb which we did not vote it so we legalize Marijuana Law then A.G. Sessions must obey Law which We the People create it but A.G. Sessions do not decide it. Thank you in AMEN of GOD.

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