In an amazing feat of clarity, the United States Congress is considering not one but four new pro-marijuana laws.
Bills in favor of relaxing the drug war have come before congress before. They are far between and usually dismissed without debate. Times have changed, however, as the US Congress is now considering several new bills including: HR 1983 The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 1984 The Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011, RD 1985 The Small Business Tax Equality Act of 2011, and HR 1831 The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011. Never before have so many anti-drug war bills come before the house in rapid succession. Never before have these bills garnered serious debate. As Obama said, however, these days drug legalization is worth of serious debate.
HR 1983, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, was introduced by Representative Barney Frank. This bill would give federal protection to marijuana patients and providers legally operating within state laws. The law clarifies the Controlled Substances Act saying, “No provision […] shall prohibit or otherwise restrict […] medical use under applicable State law.” Frank says it is a mistake for federal regulators to come in and supersede established state laws. This bill would clear up much of the legal debate surrounding medical marijuana and ensure the power remained with the States.
HR 1984, The Small Business Banking Improvement Act, along with RD 1985, The Small Business Tax Act, attempts to correct the different treatment given to companies that engage in selling medicinal marijuana. HR 1984 is in direct response to VISA’s decision to not allow the purchase of medical marijuana on their credit cards. HR 1985 allows marijuana providers to deduct business expenses in the same manner as other small business. While critics say that this would be the federal government condoning this type of business, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Pete Stark disagrees. He claims that current tax laws are unintentionally hurting the patients who have to pay higher prices because of the dispensaries’ higher costs of doing business.
HR 1831, The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2011, was introduced by Rep. Ron Paul. This bill would exclude certain low potency strains of marijuana form the Controlled Substances Act. This bill currently has 25 co-sponsors and is making serious headway in the House Judiciary and Energy Committees.
The flood of new marijuana legislation is a clear indication that the drug warriors are losing the fight. Never before was the subject of legalization met with anything more than laughter. Today this is a debate which has to be taken seriously by those on all sides. This fight is bigger then marijuana. At the heart of this debate is the issue of personal choice and state’s rights. When public opinion finally puts their backs up against the wall, our elected officials will vote for personal choice.