• Mr. Steven J. Muehler

Steve Muehler's Plan for Federal Legalization Of Marijuana

Updated: Apr 23


In 2016 more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classifies as violent, according to 2016 crime data.


Marijuana possession arrests edged up slightly in 2016, a year in which voters in four states approved recreational marijuana initiatives and voters in three others approved medical marijuana measures.


These figures should be regarded as estimates, because not all law enforcement agencies provide detailed arrest information to the FBI. But they do show that the annual number of marijuana arrests is down from their peak in the mid-2000s and stands at levels last seen in the mid 1990s. Marijuana use, particularly among adults, rose during this time.


Marijuana possession remains one of the single largest arrest categories in the United States, accounting for over 5 percent of all arrests. More than one in 20 arrests involved a marijuana possession charge, amounting to more than one marijuana possession arrest every minute.


Overall in 2016, roughly 1.5 million people were arrested for drug-related offenses, up slightly year-over-year. Advocates for a more public health-centered approach to drug use say numbers like these show the drug war never really went away.


Criminalizing drug use has devastated families across the US, particularly in communities of color, and for no good reason. Far from helping people who are struggling with addiction, the threat of arrest often keeps them from accessing health services and increases the risk of overdose or other harms.


The question of what to do about drug use has become particularly urgent in recent years as deaths from opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. The Drug Policy Alliance points out that Portugal, where the personal possession and use of drugs was decriminalized in 2001, has one of the lowest drug overdose rates in western Europe.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in January the rollback of Obama-era guidelines that stopped the federal government from enforcing its anti-marijuana laws in states that have marijuana-friendly laws.


The change, depending on how it is administered, could affect states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use — and would go against strong public opinion backing federal deference to state rules.


Federal law says marijuana is illegal, but a majority of states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing or decriminalizing its use for medical reasons. Fewer states have made it legal for recreational purposes, although with California's official legalization of recreational marijuana, Sessions' move could set up a legal showdown between the federal government and the largest and richest US state.


Nine states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — plus the District of Columbia allow recreational sales of marijuana. Another 21 states allow only some form of medical marijuana and 16 allow a lesser medical marijuana extract.


Recreational marijuana first became legal in the United States in 2012.


A broad 64% of Americans say they support the legalization of marijuana, according to a Gallup poll in October 2017 — the highest mark in more than four decades of polling.


The poll shows legalization has support from 72% of Democrats — up from 61% over the last three years — and even a slim majority, 51%, of Republicans — up from just 34% in the same time span.


Medical marijuana, for its part, has nearly universal support in the United States, according to an August 2017 poll from Quinnipiac University. An overwhelming 94% of adults — including 96% of independents, 95% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans — support it.

A broad three in four Americans, 75%, say they oppose enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational use of the drug, according to the same poll.


Republicans are most likely to back enforcing federal laws anyway — but that number is still just one in three.


The latest numbers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that 44% of Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana at least once in their lifetime. A majority, 52%, of people ages 18 to 25 have used it in their lifeline, including 33% in just the last 12 months.


Legal pot has grown to a $6.6 billion industry, with seven in 10 dollars going for medical marijuana and three in 10 going for recreational marijuana. The overall industry has been projected to quadruple over the next decade, according to New Frontier Data, a research company that analyzes the marijuana industry.


Under my Administration:

1. We would legalize both Medical and Recreational Marijuana at the Federal Level.

2. We would comb through current prison records and release (or impose alternative sentencing) non-violent marijuana offenders currently sitting in our jail system.

3. We would tax Marijuana at the Federal Level.


Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a new study (and if you have been following my Blog, under my 70 State Plan, this number would more than double).


New Frontier Data, a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry, forecasts that if legalized on the federal level, the marijuana industry could create an entirely new tax revenue stream for the government, generating millions of dollars in sales tax and payroll deductions.


The analysis shows that if marijuana were fully legal in all 50 states, it would create at least a combined $131.8 billion in in federal tax revenue between 2018 and 2026. That is based on an estimated 15 percent retail sales tax, payroll tax deductions and business tax revenue.


The federal government would reap $51.7 billion in sales tax from a legal marijuana market between 2018 and 2026, entirely new revenue for a business that remains illegal -- and unable to be taxed -- federally.


The business tax rate for the study was calculated at 35 percent. The corporate tax rate was lowered to 21 percent in a sweeping tax bill President Trump signed earlier this year.


The study also calculates that there would be 782,000 additional jobs nationwide if cannabis were legalized today, a number that would increase to 1.1 million by 2026. That includes workers at all ends of the marijuana supply chain, from farmers to transporters to sellers.


The study estimates that about 25 percent of the marijuana market will continue to be illicit, and will shrink if the legal marketplace is not overly taxed or expensive.


In the three states where adult use has been legal for the longest period of time – Colorado, Washington and Oregon – there had been a combined total of $1.3 billion in tax receipts, according to the study.


Steve Muehler is the Founder & Managing Member of the Private Placement Markets:

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© 2017 by Mr. Steven J. Muehler