Debate sparked in Washington over marijuana regulation

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The debate over marijuana regulation is lighting a fire under lawmakers in Washington. Some argue with states moving to legalize pot, the federal government should rewrite regulations. Recreational marijuana is legal in Rep. Dina Titus’ (D-NV) and she thinks federal regulation would bring in more revenue and create jobs. Folks in the industry say this would have enormous impact.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) says regulating the marijuana industry would create jobs, bring in tax revenue and legitimize sales.

“Making it recreationally or legally allowed, it’s a healthier alternative in a lot of cases,” said Sam Pettee, director of marketing at Metropolitan Wellness Center, a medical cannabis dispensary.

The question is how to regulate the industry? 24 mostly democratic House members planted legislation that would treat marijuana like alcohol. It would take pot off the controlled substances list and transfer oversight from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“More regulations a lot of times isn’t always a bad thing as long as it’s with patients’ best interests at heart,” said Pettee.

Titus cosponsors the legislation. She says it will create jobs and tax revenue.

“A regulated market is always better than having one that is run off the books and by people who are not so legitimate,” said Titus.

Not everyone likes the idea. Opponents say it’ll create a massive commercial industry, like big tobacco, and exacerbate health problems.

“Car crashes to problems with second hand smoke to school dropouts to workplace accidents,” said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Sabet says tax revenue would not make up for related costs. He also says regulation would prop up outlaw drug dealers.

“This black market undercuts the legal price, they don’t have to pay taxes. They generally benefit from legalization because the demand for marijuana has gone up,” said Sabet.

The regulation bill is still sitting in House committees with no known timeline for a vote.

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