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House lawmakers introduce bills legalizing, taxing pot

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Campaign 2012

House Democrats have introduced a pair of bills that would make marijuana legal and taxable and pro-pot groups say there is now a "philosophical shift" in favor of decriminalizing the drug.

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., authored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, which would strip the drug of its status as a Schedule 1 illegal substance under the Drug Enforcement Administration. The legislation would relabel pot as a substance similar to alcohol and shift its oversight to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which would be renamed to include "Marijuana" after Tobacco.

Under a bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Or., the federal government would cash in on the legalized status of pot by creating an excise tax for the sale of the drug and new taxes for those who sell it.

Advocacy groups pushing for the legalization of marijuana said decriminalizing the sale of pot will help extinguish the deadly drug cartels in south of the border and reduce crime in that area while increasing tax revenue for the federal government.

Colorado and Washington state passed laws last November decriminalizing recreational marijuana use.

Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, on Tuesday cited polls showing the majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana.

"There is finally significant momentum in Congress behind ending marijuana prohibition across the board at the federal level," Fox said.

But Democrats don't control the House, and Republicans are unlikely to put it on the calendar any time soon since most in the party oppose legalizing pot. No word on whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., might be willing to take up the measure.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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