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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.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

chill, please.

chill, please.

Marijuana Messiah's picture


I am the sole individual that will provide for federal legalization of marijuana. You see, everyone has taken the exact opposite approach to the reform effort, and only I can provide the American people with the true technique of legalizing marijuana nationally.

You see, I am the only one that can bring about change. I am the only individual that can make a difference in public perception. I am the only person in America that can positively influence our congressmen. I am the only one who can educate my community on the realities of marijuana from both a recreational and medicinal perspective. I alone, am the Marijuana Messiah.

If each and everyone of you felt and acted the way I do, than we wouldn't have any issue whatsoever in legalizing marijuana because each and everyone of us are Marijuana Messiahs. We don't need congress critters to pass laws. These petty differences concerning legalization have no merit. There is no fight when we act collectively and pass laws through ballot initiatives. With an issue as important as freedom, this is everyone's issue. Freedom to use a medicine proven to benefit a vast segment of our population. Freedom to use an herb recreationally proven safe and harmless. Freedom to make sound, fact based decisions in our lives. 

This is America, and we can vote in any election, state and federal, to pass new laws without restrictions. Everyone who believes in freedom, whether you use marijuana or not, should vote for legalization. Everyone who believes in freedom can become a Marijuana Messiah. Legalization is about one principle that each and every American has embedded deep in our minds, hearts and souls from the day we are born: FREEDOM!

Become the Marijuana Messiah in your community today, and realize the true power of the people through real "collective bargaining".

Warmest Regards,


Your Friendly Neighborhood Marijuana Messiah

legalize it

legalize it

marijuana legalizeation


Marijuana is safer to smoke than Tabaco and it doesn't kill you. Marijuana isn't addictive and it can be use to make oil, clothing, and rope. If Marijuana is legalized people wont have drug dealers trying to get you to buy DANGEROUS DRUGS like: Crack, cocaine, heroin, pills, and meth etc. Before Me and You were alive people were able to pay there taxes in marijuana and the declaration if independence was writen on hemp paper. ( Marijuana Paper). look up THE CHRONIC HISTORY OF MARIJUANA and watch the video to learn all about marijuana



Excellent News

Keep fighting, year after year. If we take enough "baby steps", soon we'll be able to walk and then run the pro-cannabis movement into prosperity. There is a lot of exciting legislation happening this year and this is some of the best news yet!

dear Jared Polis

I am from california, how do I support you?

marijuana reform

I hate how politicians keep screwing us over this issue.  So ignorant and dumb they appear to be.  But then again I say are they really?  They want to continue to pull the wool over the eyes of those who haven't educated themselves regarding the whole truth.  I'm tired of going into detail.  Anyone who wants to know the truth can research the history of marijuana and become outraged when he realizes what has happened.  Everything from racism, propaganda, and oppression of our civil rights.  President Nixon along with the rest of those determined to keep us oppressed outrage me.  What he did was order a commission to investigate marijuana from every vantage point.  Then after their recommendation totally disregard their findings.  He launched his war on drugs that will and has gone down as the biggest gov't blunder in my estimation of all time.  Alcohol, tobacco, etc.  known killers, while marijuana continues to harmlessly be the choice of multitudes our FREEDOM won't allow!  Rep. McNearny out here in Ca. is another one who must be removed from office.  Dianne Feinstein another, their position is disgustingly remindful of their outdated mentality.  One of these days, I just keep praying justice and righteousness will prevail!  If I could I would vote for Rep. Jared Polis today for President, a sensible man with a backbone, not afraid to speak the truth.  Help us Rep. Polis, please, there in Congress any way you can!  As I say I'm tired of the whole screwed up scenario of it all!!!

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