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Legalizing marijuana: Sensible steps

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The rising tide of common sense regarding marijuana has reached Capitol Hill, where two new House bills bring America closer than ever to the flat-out federal legalization, taxation and regulation that individual liberty and scientific validity dictate.

Colorado Democrat Rep. Jared Polis' Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act would enable states to set their own marijuana policies without federal intervention, The Daily Caller reports. The feds' scientifically bogus classification of marijuana as being as dangerous as heroin would end; regulation would shift from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms.

Another bill, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., calls for a 50-percent excise tax on growers' “first sales” of marijuana to retailers, plus other taxes like those on alcohol and tobacco — substances that cause demonstrably more societal harm. He estimates 10-year law-enforcement cost savings of $100 billion.

With 58 percent of Americans favoring legalization in a late-2012 poll, possession decriminalized to the equivalent of a traffic ticket in 15 states, medical marijuana laws in 18 states and D.C., and Colorado and Washington state voters legalizing recreational use, the day when Uncle Sam gets out of the people's way on this issue is long overdue.

The groundswell of popular support for sensible marijuana policy makes clear that federal legalization is a question of “when,” not “if” — and that other bills will succeed should these two fail.

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