U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Tuesday became an early cosponsor of a bipartisan bill to end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana.
Perhaps she was feeling particularly green for St. Patrick’s Day.
Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Rand Paul, R-Kent.; andKirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., last week introduced S.683, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act of 2015. The bill would move marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act – a list of drugs not recognized to have any valid medical use – to the less-restrictive Schedule II.
States would be freer to enact and implement medical marijuana laws without federal interference; veterans’ doctors could recommend the drug; research would speed up; and bankers could breathe easier when dealing with the industry if this bill became law.
Some advocates say having Boxer, D-Calif., sign onto the bill is a big deal.
“Sen. Boxer represents the state that led the way on medical marijuana, and it’s about time she took some action to defend the will of California’s voters from federal interference,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.
It has been a largely positive but wild ride for marijuana supporters, who last year saw voters double the number of states in which marijuana is
legal for recreational purposes (Oregon and Alaska joining Colorado and Washington). Perhaps the one monkey wrench in an otherwise great year for supporters was the failure of Florida to reach the required votes to legalize medical marijuana. Only 58% of voters supported the necessary change to the state's Constitution, just shy of the required 60%.
The motives behind the legalization movement
The movement to legalize marijuana across the country is primarily based on two key factors.
First, marijuana sales offer a new way for states, and potentially the federal government if the drug were legalized nationwide, to gain revenue through taxation and licensing fees. Instead of passing along tax increases throughout a state to all individuals, only those who purchase marijuana would incur the extra tax. Based on what we're witnessing in current recreation-legal states Washington and Colorado, taxes on the product will generally be quite high, generating reasonable income for a relatively small dollar amount of sales.