US Congressman to File Marijuana Legalization Bill This Year [FEATURE]

America is on the cusp of majority support for marijuana legalization, but legalization is not inevitable and it's up to activists and the multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry to start throwing their weight around to make it happen, US Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) told an overflow crowd during the keynote address at NORML's 40th annual conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Denver Saturday afternoon.

legalization legislation coming to the Capitol soon
"I am optimistic that we will reach a day when America has the smart, sensible marijuana policy that we deserve," Polis told an attentive audience. "But it could go either way. We could return to the dark ages of repression, or we could be on the eve of a new era of marijuana legalization. Your efforts will help determine which route this country takes and the legacy of this generation of activists on what marijuana policy looks like. Together we can accomplish this," he told the crowd.

Polis said that he would file a marijuana legalization bill this session in Congress. The language was still being developed, he added. He is also working on a bill that would address problems the medical marijuana industry is having with banks, he said.

"Marijuana policy is really coming of age," the businessman turned politician said. "Our Colorado model is very exciting," he added, touting the vibrant local medical marijuana industry on display for conference attendees from across the country. "In my last two elections, even my Republican opponents were for legalization. It's become a very mainstream value here."

That assertion is likely to be put to the test next year. Colorado and national drug reform groups have already announced they plan to put a legalization initiative on the ballot for 2012. A similar initiative in 2006 got 44% of the vote, but that was before the state's medical marijuana boom and its resulting economic impact. While the medical marijuana boom may have created a backlash, its economic benefits could counter that, Polis suggested.

"The marijuana industry here generated $1.7 billion last year and thousands of jobs," he pointed out. "It has created jobs, and jobs in ancillary businesses, it has filled storefronts and filled our alternative newspapers with ads, it has created work for lawyers and accountants, it has created tax revenues. There is a direct nexus to jobs and the economy and deficit reduction," he said.

"We are at a tipping point, on the unprecedented cusp of legalization," Polis told the audience. "The progress at the state level has led the way, but it won't come nationally until it happens in a critical mass of states. Then there comes much more pressure on Congress to legalize and regulate at the national level. Our streets will be safer and our economy stronger."

While no state with the partial exception of Alaska has legalized marijuana, that critical mass could come sooner rather than later. In the best case scenario, the entire West Coast and Colorado could legalize through the initiative process by the end of next year. Meanwhile, legislative efforts at legalization are advancing in New England and the Northeast.

Polis has emerged as one of a handful of US representatives who have publicly supported marijuana legalization or decriminalization. Others include Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Peter Stark (D-CA), and Ron Paul (R-TX). While the Obama administration has been arguably sympathetic to medical marijuana -- although recent raids and some US attorneys' statements have raised activists' hackles -- Polis wants a legalization bill to protect patients in medical marijuana states in the event of a less friendly future administration, but to go further as well.

Jared Polis
Polis has demonstrated before that he is not afraid to go public with his anti-prohibitionist views. At the end of last month, he appeared at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, standing alongside representatives of the newly-formed medical marijuana industry lobbying group, the National Cannabis Industry Association.

"Ending the failed policy of prohibition with regard to marijuana will strike a major blow against the criminal cartels that are terrorizing Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border," he said at that time.

Polis wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder last February asking him to ensure the feds complied with its October 19th memo on respecting state law. "Treating drug policy as primarily an issue of public health, as opposed to an issue of criminal justice, is both practical and compassionate and it has been and will continue to be supported by the voters of Colorado," he said then.

Polis is a Democratic progressive, and marijuana legalization fits squarely into a progressive agenda he has created with his Fearless Campaign, which also emphasizes education reform, immigration reform, food security, net neutrality, and gay, lesbian, and transgender issues.

"Close to half of Americans support legalization, yet progress is Congress is still far away," Polis said Saturday. "That's why I launched the Fearless Campaign. It's really about informing you about what's happening on Capitol Hill and empowering you to speak truth to power. We want the advocacy community tied in. These are transforming issues that are too hot to handle, but too important to ignore. Politicians need to know they're not alone, that you have their backs," he said.

"I think Americans are ready for a serious discussion about tough issues," Polis continued. "Reforming our failed drug policies is a prime example of that. Our policy of marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that doesn’t make our communities safer, while driving legitimate economic activity underground."

Efforts at legalization are growing close to fruition on both coasts, and with representatives like Jared Polis now holding forth in Congress, even that august institution is being infected with the legalization virus. The times, they are a-changing.

Denver, CO
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Marijuana Prohibition

"Marijuana Prohibition is the most destructive and dysfunctional social policy in America since Slavery"

mel72349's picture

IMO, the more appropriate

IMO, the more appropriate analogy is to the flawed 18th Amendment. Prohibition as a failed social experiment was in most ways identical in execution and results to the present war on drugs attempt to deny what people want to consume. Same rational, same high costs, same unintended consequences. Only difference was Prohibition was repealed after about 13 years. We seem to be stuck with the current madness.

mel72349's picture

IMO, the more appropriate

IMO, the more appropriate analogy is to the flawed 18th Amendment. Prohibition as a failed social experiment was in most ways identical in execution and results to the present war on drugs attempt to deny what people want to consume. Same rational, same high costs, same unintended consequences. Only difference was Prohibition was repealed after about 13 years. We seem to be stuck with the current madness.

Marijuana Decriminalization & Support

I totally agree. spread the word, they need to know we have their backs.

A Man of the People

I think Rep Polis is on the right track and presenting a sensible policy.  The Reefer Madness is in the mythology, and other distorted facts and half truths that are fed to the general public.  I'm surprised since we boomer are now a majority of the population, we can't get this done with dealing with reality.  As the Beatles said, "Everybody smokes pot".  Well nearly everybody, its a personal preference just like the personal preference of alcohol but much safer and saner.

nice

Well said.

I agree. 

I agree. 

I agree. 

I agree. 

I agree!

I agree!

A Man of the People

I think Rep Polis is on the right track and presenting a sensible policy.  The Reefer Madness is in the mythology, and other distorted facts and half truths that are fed to the general public.  I'm surprised since we boomer are now a majority of the population, we can't get this done with dealing with reality.  As the Beatles said, "Everybody smokes pot".  Well nearly everybody, its a personal preference just like the personal preference of alcohol but much safer and saner.

The less than 12% fillibuster of the 111th Congress

I'm all for sensible substance policies however, the less than 12% “Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, & Homeland Security” of the 111th Congress prevented H.R. 1866 the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009” from the “House Vote,” Senate Vote,” & “Presidential Signature” simply by neglecting it & will most likely attempt there obstruction to the "will of the people" with there fine tuned antics once again, what happens when they pull there bull shit this time?

I believe that can only be

I believe that can only be stopped by a significant amount of support. If we get our politicians to feel that if they don't work for legalization, they will be out of power, then we will see some definite change.

Anon,

That will work ONLY if EVERY person who supports the reform of drug laws takes the few minutes necessary to actually email (via the congress critter's webform) their thoughts on the issue, and their threats to actively work against the re-election of said congress critters should they refuse to vote FOR reasonable reform, or even if they just ignore it to prevent it coming to a vote on the floor of either house of congress.  

I've been doing this for more years than I like to count, but it takes a LOT more than one or two voices to get them to move in any direction but that ordered by their corporate masters.  It is going to take a TSUNAMI of emails and phone calls to make this happen.  So if you really care about this issue, don't just post on the pages of the choir, go tell your elected officials, too.

Spot on!   They have to

Spot on!   They have to understand this IS the tipping point for most voters and no amount of corporate influence will alter that intent.

OK so where can we send these e mails?

People always have good ideas but if you don't provide all pertinent information it won't rally much support.I base this on my own experience.Give people a link or even a link to a link and it'll work.Balls in your court.

Problem is, sicntired,

There is not just one link, there are 535 links.  

Each congress critter has his/her own webpage with a webform to email him/her.  It is not hard to reach that webform, however, just Google the congress critter's name and the official page will show including a link to the "contact form".  If people cannot take the time to do that little thing to see how to contact their so-called "representatives" in government, then they probably will not bother to email congress, anyway.  

I have my congress critters' webforms bookmarked I email them regularly, sometimes twice a day (about different things). Yes, it takes a bit longer to fill out the webform than to just write a regular email, but it is becoming necessary for all of us to do it, anyway.  My preferred method is to write what I want to say, in notebook or another word processing program, or my internet provider's standard email form; when I get it perfectly ordered, I copy it and paste it in the comment portion of the webform, then I fill out the rest of the form.  My two senators have autofill enabled on their webforms, which makes filling out the name, address, etc. part of the form easier and quicker; my rep does not have that feature.  I also have Obama's email webform bookmarked, but I use it a lot less.

Luckily my State legislators still allow regular email (not webforms, tho the governor has gone to that method), and I not only have my legislators' email addys in my address book, but the email addys of a number of other legislators from other districts, so my emails reach a lot more legislators than only those who supposedly represent me.

where to find emails

go to your states government page and find them yourself. if your old enough to use cannabis and smart enough to find this page I suggest you start taking some of the initiative yourself. Cannabis activists are unpaid citizens who use their time and face personal persecution for their stance. My suggestion is you take the time to do it yourself. If you arent even capable of finding an email by yourself then you probably aren't doing what we would consider responsible adult use.

 

Lazy people like this guy are the reason this movement is taking so long.

 

Legalize marijuana and criminalize couch lock and stupidity in "12"

If I could only get enough

If I could only get enough hemp seed i'd plant a forty and say @$#%^ them......

Wrong Committee.

Why wasn't this heard by the committees  in charge of agricultural policy? We are talking about FARMING aren't we?

We are. They're not talking about anything if they can help it.

 Stifle debate is their first line of attack. They are talking (but not in public!) about the need to protect cotton and oil based synthetics from free market competition from industrial hemp. Then then go on and on about how much they love the free market.

this is about more than getting high,its about saving the planet

Oboma wants a green,jobs,environment friendly CO2 killer,every time we cut down a tre,we are taking the planets ability to clean up CO2.and produce oxygen for us and the animals to breath.Hemp is not only good for papper,but great for bio fuels,Oil.yes it can be used in a crank case.It produces 4.5 as much material as trees per acer of land and can be cultivated several times a year.Paper,cloth,building products,anything we use oil for hemp can replace.And its renewable.Thanks to marijuana I no longer smoke tobaco,or marijuana.except when by back hurts.Sope,the number of products cant be listed because well just cant in a post.look hemp seeds are 21%protien,they are used in vitamins all the time.We just get it from canada instead of growing it here.it croweds out weeds,and gives off larg amounts of oxygen,and absorbs more co2 than trees.thats why co2 is increasing so much,we are pumping it into our atmosfier,and at the same time clearing the trees and plants that clean it up.The jobs,the industries,medicational uses alone.Have we not protected the tobaco,alcohol,big oil,dupont.cotton,and yes evan the corn industry for far to long.and lets not forget about the private prison system.All those people in prison,for a harmless plant sent by god,for the benefit of mankind.of course the would not be able to seise you cars,or homes anylonger.but still the fines.the sales taxes,corperate,taxes on all those industries and products,the income taxes on income from working americans,the savings on unemployment.incarseration,and prosacution.the people off welfare,and thats just a start.not to mention,its great for stress and depression.Sure we would have some that abuse it,or use it inapropreatly,like while driving,or watching children.just like alcohol.but that happens anyway wether its legal or not so...got another reason.?it is far easyer for a child to get marijuana,than say olcohol or cigaretts.because the drug dealers dont care,but a store clerk.wont risk a heavy fine,jail,and the lost job to sell to a minor.Legalization,regulation and taxation is the way to go.the cartels would love us for it.

It's all about the money.

It's all about the money. There's money being made both ways legal and illegal. We have to show that we can make a legitimate revenue the legal way, OR just give all those Rx company CEO's a nice lump sum of cash and tell them to shut the hell up. you too DuPont! They all have their grubby fingers in it!

It is time

IT IS TIME! I would typed something factual that supports cannabis legalization but i do that so much online im tired i should sue the drug war for giving me arthritis. but all i got to say now is IT IS TIME!
 

Warrior Society

It is all about the money,the Drug, Oil, and Chemical company's have a hell of a lot of cash with which to line the politicians pockets. Besides there are only a small number of politicians who can see the true benefit's of legalizing and taxing Hemp and Cannabis. Plain an simple, they don't give a dam about the American people, their real concern is to fill their pockets with cash as fast as they can. I really believe the government is afraid that a Peaceful society might just come to pass, and that would not help the Evil Empires War Machine.

Don't forget the biggest culprit, the Alcohol industry

While those companies have a vested financial interest the worst and most powerful enemy of legalization is the alcohol industry that views marijuana's social exceptance as a threat to the market share of their product. It's no coincidence that alcohol's destructive side effects go unmentioned and unchecked by the FDA. Our organization, Remove Intoxicated Drivers have attempted numerous times to pass legislation to put health messages and warnings on lables of alcohol and our committed efforts have been squelched due to the influence of their well funded lobbyists. So the only education the public receives is the misleading beer ads that promote drinking on every ocassion as a fun activity. At the same time the Alcohol industry funds the Partnership for a Drug Free America to shape the public perception that pot is addictive, a gateway drug and dangerous. This hypocracy is a key reason why there has been so little progress over the years to end marijuana prohibition.

 

However,, the truth shall win out in the end in the long narrative of the drug war.

yeah, alcohol industry should be the first to advocate for weed

as part of a more general serious effort they refuse to make to reduce alcohol related violence. If they had a conscience about the damage their industry causes, they would be the first to want a safer alternative available. People are not going to forget the stunningly hypocritical piglet ways they are showing by standing in the way of cannabis. One day it will be clear to a lot more people than now how many lives have been lost because of cannabis prohibition - between those lost to black market related violence, alcohol related violence, and the suppression of medicinal cannabis/medicinal cannabis research.

Poster

Great poster! I'll definitely pass it on to all of my friends

Legalize It!

 

I feel this is a step in the right direction toward making Pot work to help our damaged economies.  Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body.  Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws.  I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html  Drop in and let me know what you think!

If California the most

If California the most liberal out of liberal states could not legalize it, then it will be a very VERY long time before it will get legalized at the federal level. Sad to say.

That depends on who we elect to office.

Simple we elect to office in congress the people that will legalize.and follow our constitution.simple

Top Priority

Must get FDA to remove marijuana from Schedule I. I assure everyone that until this occurs NOTHING WILL EVER be implemented on a Federal level. It is the keystone.

rescheduling

It isn't the FDA who would have to reschedule. The three that can create the rescheduling change are the President through executive order, the congress through legislature and the department of health and human services can petition to reschedule. And to the people who want someone to find all the info for them. I suggest looking it up yourself

fletch's picture

Thanks

Michael,

It is true it needs to be done by the sources you mentioned, my point is that it needs to be removed from Schedule I. We against the prohibition should focus on one of these entities and let the science of medical efficacy be proof that cannabis needs to be appropriately reclassified.

details...

The Controlled Substances Act also provides for a rulemaking process by which the United States Attorney General can reschedule cannabis administratively.

This is because Cannabis was never intended to remain schedule I.  It was put there temporarily until the Shaffer report came back with results (which were promptly ignored and thrown in the trash... literally).  So technically the USAG still can reschedule because Cannabis was intended to be moved to begin with as I understand it.

Medicinal Marijuana

My latest pain medication from the VA says "May cause heart attack". Please help enact federal legislation for medicinal marijuana!! 

Oh c'mon, it's just a measly little heart attack

It's your patriotic duty to endure it if necessary. So they say.

Just one thing: it's RE-legalization!

A point which should be hammered home at every opportunity, as it provides a wedge when someone says, "Huh? what do you mean, re-legalization? You mean it used to be legal? Why was it made illegal?"

Why do you keep censoring my posts?

Why do you keep censoring my posts?

Honestly this is what needs to happen

This is exactly what needs to happen and it needs to happen now. The Constitution now needs to be used to remove the current gov't and sever all ties.

 

We need a new governtment body to make serious change. I wish more Americans gave a shit about how much voice they really do have. We can really vote these long term bastards out and blacklist them from all future govt positions and they would have to fend for themselves like every main street American.

 

Dave

fletch's picture

Observation

DAMN You for being RIGHT

Patriotism, Democracy, Freedom!!!

Every man wishes to pursue his occupation and to enjoy the fruits of his labors and the produce of his property in peace and safety, and with the least possible expense. When these things are accomplished, all the objects for which government ought to be established are answered. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Medical marijuana states need to force the feds to reschedule

Its up to the people in those states where marijuana has been recognized as a medicine to reflect that in their state scheduling and then force those state governments to file for rescheduling at the federal level.

I wonder when Marijuana will be legal.

I do wonder, sometimes I feel hopeful and sometimes I do not. 

I do not think legalization will happen at the federal level first, I seriously doubt that. 

Legalization is going to have to happen at a state level. Once one state legalizes marijuana, more will follow.

There will be states that will fight tooth and nail big time to keep it illegal. Once 10 to 15 states legalize it, at that point the federal government will have to legalize it for all states. If they didn't things would just get to chaotic. 

I think California may be the first state to legalize. I feel if they can come up with a proposition that is better written than prop 19 we may have a chance. 

Also better funding will be needed and the adds will have to be designed properly.

There are many people who are dead set on never allowing it to be legal and those are the people we need to sway to really have a good chance to make legalization a reality. That will be a difficult thing to say the least.

That being said, if we could could sway 10% of the voters who are at this time dead set against legalization, legalization could become possible. This will be very, very difficult to do, but if we are going to do this, these are the people we need on our side to make it happen. So we should think, how can we get 10% of people who are dead set against legalization on our side? If we can figure that out legalization of marijuana will happen.

We need to keep our foot on the floor when to come to trying to legalize, no giving up. 

 

to answer your question...

imagine a solid stainless steel sphere the size of the earth.. with a mosquito landing on it once every billion years...when the mosquitoes have completely eroded away the sphere.. we will be no closer to legalizing marijuana than we are now...

 


 

Reply

So you are saying it might take a little while.

I disagree, oh negative one. 

fletch's picture

Listing

Here is a list of all the Countries in the World where Marijuana is legal:

Would you like me to repeat it? I will anyway: The next will be the first.

@Theophilus

We'd probablly wait another 5 or so years until the old generations die off.

Progressivism is a Disease

I'm all for the legalization of marijuana, but progressivism is a disease.  A PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT made marijuana illegal to begin with.  Don't believe me?  Look it up!  It was FDR, a progressive democrat!  Progressives want to control everything.

http://LP.org - Libertarian Party.  Maximum Freedom - Minimum Government

Progress isn't an ism

FDR may have been president but you'll have to prove he had anything to do with the Tax Act himself. It was the career guys (government career folks work straight through from president to president) in the Narcotics bureau that rammed it through. If you don't see that Republicans are the biggest control freaks then you really must be blind.

The people

The truth is most people who are for it are afraid to voice that they are because they are afraid of being viewed as a "criminal" by the public but if we can just re-educate people of the ACTUAL facts of cannabis, recreational use and medicinal use, and make them realize that this "devils weed" is actually safer than most LEGAL things out there. once the publics views have changed and realize that cannabis prohibition causes way more harm than cannabis itself ever could then we can move forward with factual views to make factual laws. The media is the best way to get the word out so the more advertisement for ending the prohibition the better. after all it was media propaganda that got it illegal in the first place, that and racism.

 

Keep fighting the fight!

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