Conservative activist Grover Norquist, whose anti-tax pledge has been signed by almost all congressional Republicans, said taxing marijuana would not violate lawmakers' promise to their constituents to not raise taxes.
"That's not a tax increase. It's legalizing an activity and having the traditional tax applied to it," Norquist told National Journal's Alex Seitz-Wald. "When you legalize something and more people do more of it and the government gets more revenue because there's more of it ... that's not a tax increase... The tax goes from 100 percent, meaning its illegal, to whatever the tax is."
Earlier this year, Norquist forged an unlikely alliance with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), who introduced a bill that would reduce the tax burden on small, legal marijuana businesses. Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform, threw support behind the bill.
"There is no reason why the tax code should deny ordinary and necessary business expenses to legitimate businesses established under state law," Norquist wrote in a letter to Congress urging the bill's passage. "The result is an arbitrary and punitive situation where legal employers face very high average effective tax rates that Congress never sought to impose on businesses."
And in June, Norquist appeared at a Students for Sensible Drug Policy event on Capitol Hill alongside Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a vocal advocate for marijuana legalization.
"A lot of folks... across the political spectrum recognize this as a federalism issue," Norquist said, according to the Washington Post.
Recent polling has shown strong support for legal marijuana. A Gallup survey released earlier this week found 58 percent of Americans support legalizing cannabis, marking the first time a clear majority voiced support for legal recreational marijuana use in the poll.