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Government and Politics
In 2012, Washington and Colorado voters made history when they approved measures to legalize recreational marijuana. Washington Initiative 502 “authorizes the state liquor board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons twenty-one years of age or older.”Since the vote in Washington, the Liquor Board has written a complex set of rules for the state’s new, legal recreational cannabis marketplace. The agency has also set limits on the amount of marijuana that can be grown. And the Board has begun to license growers, processors and retailers.For now, the Obama administration has signaled it will not interfere with Washington and Colorado’s legal pot experiment, unless there is evidence that legal pot is “leaking” to other states or children are getting access to the legal product. The feds are also watching to see if criminal organizations exploit the legal market.The first marijuana retail stores in Washington opened in July 2014.Recreational marijuana is also set to become legal in Oregon on July 1, 2015 after voters approved Measure 91 in November 2014.

Northwest Lawmakers Push Federal Marijuana Bills

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Drug Enforcement Agency

Some Democrats in the US Congress are pushing measures to bring marijuana dispensaries in the Northwest under the federal tax code. Since federal law prohibits possession and sale of marijuana, dispensaries can't take advantage of any federal tax deductions.

Several members of Congress have introduced legislation that would allow the IRS to recognize pot businesses in states where marijuana is legal. At a press conference in Washington, DC, Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer said current federal law treats people with a state-sanctioned marijuana business as criminals.

“What we’re dealing with now is that we have people who are not drug dealers, not involved with anything illegal. They’re operating legally under the cover of state law who cannot avail themselves to expensing that irrigation system; that they’re going to remodel a facility, it can’t be deducted.”

Washington Democratic Congressman Dennis Heck is joining Blumenauer in the push to make the federal government recognize state marijuana laws. Washington is one of two states to legalize pot for recreational purposes. Oregon allows it for medicinal use.