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Will Congress End Federal Marijuana Prohibition in 2017?

U.S. Representative Jared Polis says he will introduce bill to do just that.

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Despite the uncertainly surrounding the Trump Administration’s supposed plot to dismantle the cannabis industry once it takes control of the United States later this month, one federal lawmaker has pledged to continue to push Congress to end the scourge of marijuana prohibition across the entire nation.

In a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. Representative Jared Polis of Colorado, a man often revered as one of Capitol Hill’s leading proponents of pot reform, cried out for Congress to finally step up and legalize the leaf nationally in a manner similar to alcohol.

The lawmaker said he plans to do as he has done for the past several years and put forth a piece of legislation intended to eliminate the nation’s prohibitionary stance.

“Every Congress since 2013, I have introduced legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and leaves the decision to legalize up to the states, where it belongs,” Polis wrote. “I plan to reintroduce the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act in the next Congress.”

The “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” if it does not stray from its original language, would eliminate cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and allow the herb to be regulated under the guidance of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It would also give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the same control over the cannabis plant that it currently has on alcoholic beverages.

However, if the bill somehow finds its way to passage, it would still give states the right to maintain prohibition. So, while most state governments might be eager to jump on the opportunity to launch a new, multi-billion dollar industry, some of the more conservative states may be inclined to hold off.

Either way, Polis believes the time has come for the federal government to get up to speed with the will of the people and take a bold leap in 2017.

“It is past time for Congress to acknowledge that there has been a resounding shift in the way Americans think about marijuana, and science supports this shift,” Polis wrote.

Polis’ is expected to submit the bill in February, but there has been no information made available over whether this year’s attempt will present anything different than in years past.

In 2016, the bill, much like every other piece of federal marijuana legalization to find its way into the halls of Congress, did not so much as receive a hearing. Therefore it would be a tremendous accomplishment for this proposal, or any other like it, to be met with any kind of consideration in the upcoming session.

But even if the bill is well received, President-elect Donald Trump is not likely to get behind such an ambitious reform. In fact, there is a great deal of concern that the Trump Administration, specifically Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, could be an infectious thorn in the side of the cannabis industry in the coming months.

Yet Polis is hoping for the best.

“While it’s discouraging to see that the president-elect has picked an attorney general who is hostile to marijuana reforms, it is the president who sets the policies,” Polis wrote in the Chronicle. “We must hold Trump accountable to what he has said in the past about marijuana legalization.

“It is time for the federal government to get out of the way of states that have voted to legalize cannabis… Congress should look to states like Colorado as an example where allowing responsible adults to use marijuana generates money for classrooms, not cartels; creates jobs, not addicts; and boosts our economy, not our prison population,” he concluded.