On November 13, 2014 Rep. Earl Blumenauer from Oregon asked for and was granted permission to address the United States House of Representatives for 5 minutes regarding the question of the legalization of Marijuana:
“Mr. Speaker, there were many close elections across America last week, but there was one clear winner: ending our failed prohibition on marijuana and instead legalizing, regulating, and taxing adult use.
Alaska and the District of Columbia voters joined Colorado and Washington from 2 years earlier with strong votes to legalize. Nowhere was that more emphatic than in my home State of Oregon. Marijuana legislation passed in Oregon by a greater margin than it did in Washington and Colorado. It got more votes than United States Senator Jeff Merkley, who was overwhelmingly reelected. And this was in a low-turnout, non-Presidential year, which experts predicted would depress the “yes” vote.
In a few minutes, I will be joined in a press conference with Eleanor Holmes Norton, whose constituents resoundingly approved legalization, and will make the case that Congress needs to stay out of the way of its implementation. Jared Polis, who has been my partner on efforts at modernizing and reforming marijuana laws, will give a snapshot on the progress in Colorado 2 years after legalization. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from southern California, the first State to legalize medical marijuana 18 years ago, has been a tireless champion of the Federal Government not interfering with decisions of local voters to modernize and reform local marijuana laws. He has helped dozens of his Republican colleagues understand and support marijuana and hemp reform.
Perhaps just as important as those votes that passed was one that failed: the vote to legalize medical marijuana that failed in Florida. But it should be noted that it garnered 57 percent of statewide voters, again, in a low-turnout, non-Presidential election where many of the people, polls show, who were supporters did not bother to vote. It got more votes than any statewide candidate in Florida on the ballot this year. Because it was a constitutional amendment that requires a 60 percent voter approval level, it was not approved at this time. But there is no question that medical marijuana is in the immediate future for Floridians. If it were back on the ballot in a Presidential year, it would exceed the 60 percent threshold.
In the meantime, we are going to work hard to implement the Oregon law and take advantage of the next 2 years to learn from the experience of others and refine our approach. We will raise new revenues to help education, addiction treatment, and law enforcement. And most important, we have already stopped prosecuting people for items that will be legal under the law, and we will be better able to protect our kids than the current vast underground black market.
Now Congress needs to do its part. We need to act now in Congress to solve two serious problems, not just for those States that have legalized adult use but the 23 States and counting that have legalized medical marijuana.
A narrow reading of Federal banking regulations requires that these perfectly legal marijuana businesses be on an all-cash basis. Restricting them from having bank accounts is absolutely insane, unfair, and unwise if you care about money laundering, tax evasion, or theft.
Additionally, I have legislation that will permit legal marijuana businesses to be able to deduct their business expenses from their income tax. Because of the quirk in the law–the 280E provision–small and emerging businesses face punitive Federal taxation that is unfair, unwise, and certainly unjustified. Regardless of how people feel about legalizing marijuana, these businesses are here–and here to stay.
Passing H.R. 2240 and H.R. 2652 will help treat this emerging sector of the economy fairly and further protect the public. I am hopeful that as the reality of these elections and future changes set in, we will be able to do a better job of permitting them to operate and allow this rapidly emerging area of commerce to serve the public and thrive.”
Source: Congressional Record
Elected to the US House of Representatives in 1996, Mr. Blumenauer has created a unique role as Congress’ chief spokesperson for Livable Communities: places where people are safe, healthy and economically secure. From 1996 to 2007, he served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he was a strong advocate for federal policies that address transportation alternatives, provide housing choices, support sustainable economies and improve the environment. He was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee from 2001 to 2007, and vice-chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming from 2007 to 2010. He is currently a member of the Budget Committee and Ways and Means Committee and the subcommittees on Health and Trade.
Congressman Blumenauer’s academic training includes undergraduate and law degrees from Lewis and Clark College in Portland.