House Resolution 499, currently buried in committee, would put an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana. The bill was introduced by Representative Jared Polis of Colorado.
The bill, aptly named the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013, is crystal clear in its intent. The summary available to Congress in part states that the bill
Eliminates marijuana as: (1) a controlled substance for purposes of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act or the National Forest System Drug Control Act of 1986, (2) a dangerous drug for purposes of federal criminal code provisions authorizing interception of communications, and (3) a targeted drug for purposes of provisions of the national youth anti-drug media campaign under the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998.
The bill goes on to specify that the marijuana will be treated as alcohol for most federal purposes and grants the Food and Drug Administration authority over its handling, just as the FDA handles alcohol. The bill also specifies that the Treasury Department will oversee permits relating to the packaging and distribution of the product. Under the bill, it would still be illegal to transfer marijuana in interstate or international commerce to jurisdictions where it is still illegal, allowing states to decide whether or not to allow the sale of the product. Violations of the restriction would fall under the jurisdiction of renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, Firearms, and Explosives.
Under H.R. 499 states would be the ultimate governing body on recreational use of marijuana.
In addition to Representative Polis, the bill has 16 co-sponsors; fifteen Democrats and one Republican.
The bill, which has received little press and has languished in committee for months, is developing a grassroots campaign to get the bill to the floor for a vote. A Facebook page has been started focusing on raising awareness of this bill and other legalization of marijuana issues. Phonebank.org also has a campaign dedicated to the goal of bringing the bill to the floor.
Russell Tavares, a supporter of the proposed bill, said
This legislation is a step in the right direction. It's been so long since we ended the first bout of prohibition in this country that not enough living people recall the bloody violence attributable to the black market that springs up in the vacuum. The 21st amendment showed that you could end gang violence overnight. Unfortunately, we've also forgotten the lesson of the 18th: Government never had the power to outlaw a substance without an amendment, and hasn't gained it, since. I'd prefer a reform that didn't hand more power to a lettered agency, but otherwise, it's an improvement.
Most sources give the bill little or no chance of being enacted at the current level of interest.