Congress Is About to Introduce Legislation to Decriminalize Marijuana

Rep. Jared Polis from Colorado will propose new pot legalization bill today.

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Democratic Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, left, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon will introduce sweeping marijuana reform legislation Tuesday.
Democratic Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, left, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon will introduce sweeping marijuana reform legislation Tuesday.

Whispers has learned that a member of Congress is about to introduce legislation today to decriminalize marijuana.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 will be introduced by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, from Colo., whose office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

[RELATED: Young Adults Left Behind by Marijuana Legalization]

The legislation, which would regulate marijuana like alcohol, is similar to another bill introduced by former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts in July 2011. That bill died in the House.

Like the previous legislation, the new bill leaves the decision of whether to permit marijuana use to the states. That means it would be illegal to ship marijuana into a state where the drug remained illegal, according to a copy of the bill obtained by Whispers.

The sale and possession of marijuana for non-medical use is currently legal in Colorado and Washington.

Former police officer Howard Wooldridge of Citizens Opposing Prohibition, which has lobbied for years for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, says he has confidence the bill can be passed in the new Congress.

"When I first rode into town, in 2005, a significant number of Republicans would treat me with what I call rude behavior," says Woodridge, who rode horseback from Georgia to Oregon in 2003, and from Los Angeles to New York in 2005 to spread the word on what he calls modern-day prohibition. "But when the Ron Paul revolution happened four years ago, many Republican staffers became Ron Paul people, and they became on my side."

"It's almost a 180 change in the Congress as a whole, specifically among Republicans," he adds.

[READ: Obama Tacitly Endorses the Pot Economy]

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan is one Republican who might support Polis's legislation. Amash previously signed on to a bill that would have provided more protection for people using marijuana for medical purposes.

"It depends on the details," Amash's deputy chief of staff Will Adams tells Whispers. "It's going to be a tough sell for some conservatives ... who want to increase criminal penalties for marijuana. ... But some conservatives, like Congressman Amash, want federal government to get out of criminalizing marijuana."

Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013

Polis Bill

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