House passes legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana in historic vote

House passes legislation to federally decriminalize
marijuana in historic vote 1

Neither chamber of Congress has ever voted on marijuana
decriminalization, but that changed on Friday when the House of
Representatives voted to pass legislation that would decriminalize
marijuana use at the federal level.

In the historic vote, the House voted to pass the
Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act
. The
final vote on the cannabis bill was 228-164,
mostly down party lines. There were five Republicans who voted in
favor of the measure, including Reps. Brian Mast (Fla.), Matt Gaetz
(Fla.), Denver Riggleman (Va.), Don Young (Alaska), and Tom
McClintock (Calif.).

Six Democrats voted against their party to oppose the bill,
including Reps. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) Dan Lipinski (Ill.) Henry
Cuellar (Texas), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Chris Pappas (N.H.), and Collin
Peterson (Minn.).

While the bill passed in the House, it is not expected to pass
the GOP-controlled Senate.

The proposed legislation would remove marijuana from the federal
list of controlled substances, thus decriminalizing it on a federal
level. The legislation would also mandate a reassessment of prior
marijuana convictions and expunge some marijuana convictions for
nonviolent criminals.

The legislation creates a federal tax on marijuana sales that
would begin at 5%. The bill would still allow states to establish
their own rules and regulations regarding sales and access to
medical marijuana.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who
introduced the bill, said
on Friday before the vote, “The MORE Act is a common-sense bill
that will make a tangible, real difference in the lives of millions
of Americans. I’m proud of this bill centered around ideals of
racial, economic, and moral justice and I look forward to the House
passing it today.”

Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer, one of the bill’s
original sponsors,
said during Friday’s
House floor debate, “We’re not rushing to
legalize marijuana. The American people have already done that.
We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous
war on drugs and do its part for the over 15 million marijuana
users in every one of your districts.”

Gaetz, the only Republican co-sponsor of the bill, said he was
voting for the bill “because the federal government has lied to the
people of this country about marijuana for a generation.”

“My Republican colleagues today will make a number of arguments
against this bill, but those arguments are overwhelmingly losing
with the American people,” Gaetz
. “I’m going to vote for the MORE Act. It won’t pass the
Senate. It won’t become law. We should come back in the 117th
Congress and we should truly do more for our people.”

Republican lawmakers lampooned Democrats
this week for putting
up a vote on the legalization of marijuana before securing COVID-19
pandemic relief for Americans. Republicans were also frustrated
that Congress made it a priority to review a bill that will attempt
to ban breeding and private ownership of big cats, as seen in the
Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” before a coronavirus package.

“This week, your House Democrat majority is tackling the tough
issues by holding a vote on legalizing pot and banning tiger
ownership,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted
on Monday. “Nothing for small businesses. Nothing for re-opening
schools. Nothing on battling the pandemic. Just cannabis and

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) proclaimed,
“Let me get this straight: Nancy Pelosi is blocking a bill to
deliver unused Paycheck Protection Program funds to workers and
small businesses. But she managed to find time for a vote on pot
legislation this week.”

“Things @SpeakerPelosi brought members back to vote on:
Legalizing marijuana Tiger King legislation,” Rep. Bruce Westerman
(R-Ark.) said.
“Things we aren’t voting on: More PPP funding COVID-19 relief
Military funding Funding for the entire federal government It’s
clear where Democrats’ priorities lie.”

Recreational cannabis is legal for adults in 15 states and
Washington, D.C., while there are
states that have legalized medical marijuana.

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