The Oregon legislators supporting the cannabis industry—long vilified—say legalization and regulation of marijuana is an issue of state's rights. Still, they say the federal government needs revenue—and this is one way to get it.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer announced three new pieces of legislation this morning, intended to be a "path for responsible federal legalization and regulation of the marijuana industry." The Path to Marijuana Reform legislation includes three bills, including:
- The Small Business Tax Equity Act
, intended to repeal the tax penalties on marijuana businesses that prevent them from claiming tax credits and deductions. According to Wyden's office, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is a cosponsor of Wyden's Senate bill. Meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, (R-FL), is sponsoring a companion bill in the U.S. House.
- The Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act
, intended to remove criminal penalties and asset forfeiture for businesses and individuals who are complying with state laws. The Act would also pave the way for cannabis businesses to gain access to banking, bankruptcy protection and other benefits. The Act would also include an expungement process for certain marijuana violations, and would allow veterans access to state-legal medical marijuana, and protect Native tribes from federal punishment.
- The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act
, meant to de-schedule, tax and regulate marijuana. The Act would impose a federal excise tax on marijuana products, much like what is currently done for alcohol and tobacco. In a conference call today, Blumenauer explained that the tax would be increased "gradually and thoughtfully," finding a "sweet spot" that would add a revenue stream for the federal government.
"The federal government is looking for revenue," Wyden said, and the bills would be an "opportunity to generate revenue from businesses that are legal."
It's not yet clear how much in federal taxes would be added to state and local taxes imposed on cannabis, which—along with strict and changing regulations—local cannabis activists say unfairly target the cannabis industry. But Wyden noted today that the federal rate would be calibrated based on the sales price, and adjust to price changes.