Consistent with the Obama administration’s rational response to the dramatic change in public opinion and state laws, Congress should focus on passing laws that support states as they shift marijuana sales from the illegal, underground market into legal, taxpaying businesses. There are three bills that would go a long way toward accomplishing this goal:
Building on last month’s action by the administration, the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2013 (HR 2652) would modify a variety of federal laws to ensure that financial institutions can work with marijuana-related businesses without any threat of federal penalty in the future.
The Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2013 (HR 2240) would modify a provision of the Internal Revenue Code that illogically prevents state-legal marijuana-related businesses from taking standard business deductions.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 (HR 499), simply summarized, would regulate marijuana like alcohol under federal law.
Once these laws have passed, the federal government will reap a tremendous financial benefit. Instead of spending billions of dollars annually enforcing marijuana prohibition, it will receive billions of dollars annually in tax revenue. And it will do so while respecting states’ rights, individual liberties and public opinion.
It’s time, Congress.
Steve Fox is co-founder of the National Cannabis Industry Association and serves as a strategic advisor to the organization.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.