Marijuana Could Soon be Regulated Like Alcohol in All 50 States

Marijuana could soon be regulated similar to alcohol in all 50 states.
Marijuana enthusiasts gather at the "Weed the People" event to celebrate the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Portland, Oregon on July 3, 2015. On March 30, a Colorado Representative introduced legislation that would make marijuana regulated like alcohol in all 50 states. Steve Dipaola/REUTERS

In eight states and Washington D.C., adults can legally consume marijuana—and that could soon change to adults in all 50 states. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) recently introduced a bill that would make marijuana federally legal and allow the plant to be regulated as alcohol is in the U.S.

Under the new bill, called the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, the plant would be removed from its Schedule I listing on the Controlled Substances List and would be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Adults 21 and up would be able to purchase and consume cannabis legally across the nation. Advertising rules similar to those regarding alcohol would also apply to marijuana under the bill.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act is part of a package of three cannabis-related bills introduced Thursday by members of the Cannabis Caucus in the House of Representatives, of which Polis is a member along with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who also sponsored the measures.

In addition to regulating marijuana similar to alcohol in the U.S., the bills would change the way marijuana is taxed and allow researchers to study the plant without restrictions. As for medical use of the plant, the bills call for the Department of Veterans Affairs to make recommendations on how cannabis should be used as treatment.

In a statement, Polis, who helped pushed recreational marijuana legislation in Colorado, said the state has demonstrated the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition.

“Colorado has proven that allowing responsible adults to legally purchase marijuana, gives money to classrooms, not cartels; creates jobs, not addicts; and boosts our economy, not our prison population,” he said. “Now, more than ever, it is time we end the federal prohibition on marijuana and remove barriers for states that have chosen to legalize marijuana. This budding industry can’t afford to be stifled by the [President Donald] Trump administration and its mixed-messages about marijuana. The cannabis industry, states, and citizens deserve leadership when it comes to marijuana.”

Polis introduced a similar bill in 2015 that was rejected. However, now that marijuana is legal in some form in 29 states and Americans increasingly support cannabis legalization, Polis is confident the bill could make it to Trump's desk for approval.