House approves marijuana law

The chamber passed legislation on Friday to legalize marijuana across the country and eliminate lengthy criminal penalties for anyone who distributes or possesses it.

Lawmakers passed the bill largely along party lines, 220-204, with three Republicans joining all but two supporting Democrats.

The measure is now going to the Senate, where majority leader Charles Schumer (DY) is working with other Democrats to pass a marijuana legalization law this spring.

But it’s unclear whether the law on wide legalization of marijuana could remove the necessary 60 votes to advance in the Senate.

Schumer may not have enough support in his own democratic club. At least two Democrats representing the states ravaged by the opioid epidemic, Senator Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH), have expressed skepticism about the proposal.

Democrats in the House of Representatives previously passed the marijuana legalization law in December 2020. But this measure did not go anywhere in the Senate, which at the time was still under the control of the GOP government.

The bill, titled the Marijuana Reinvestment and Finishing Act (MORE), would remove cannabis beliefs from human registries and formally remove it from the federal list of controlled substances.

The legislation would also impose a federal marijuana sales tax to fund programs to help communities disadvantaged by the so-called “war on drugs” policy, which has imposed severe penalties for the distribution and use of drugs.

Sales tax started at 5 percent and gradually increased to 8 percent over five years.

Proponents argued it was time for the federal government to catch up with most states that have at least some degree legalized marijuana.

“We have treated cannabis as a criminal justice problem for far too long, not as a matter of personal choice and public health,” said House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (DY), the project’s main sponsor.

“If the states are the laboratories of democracy, the federal government long ago recognized that legalization was a huge success and that the conflict with federal law has become unsustainable,” Nadler said.

Before the final paragraph, the House rejected an amendment by representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) To clarify that people cannot be denied security clearance for marijuana use, as 12 Democrats have joined all Republicans except two in the opposition.

Democrats further framed the measure as a way to reverse the disproportionate impact of criminalizing marijuana on racial minorities. Black Americans are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite the fact that both races are using the drug at roughly the same rate, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Not to make a mistake. Yes, this is the Racial Justice Act,” said representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair and Congressional Black Caucus member.

Republicans have argued that marijuana is a mind-altering substance enough to pose a threat to society.

“Record crime, record inflation, record gas prices, record number of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border and what are the Democrats doing today? Legalization of drugs. Legalizing drugs and using US tax dollars to start and support the marijuana industry. Wow, said the rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), leading Republican on the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, at least 37 states, four territories, and the District of Columbia permit medical marijuana use. About half of that number – 18 states, two territories, and the country’s capital – are for non-medical use.

Some Republicans who support the legalization of marijuana opposed the Democratic House bill on Friday, arguing that there should be a more cross-party approach.

MP Nancy Mace (RS.C.) called on Friday for House-floor legislation to approximate its own Marijuana Legalization Act, which would restrict marijuana use to people over the age of 21 and set a lower sales tax that would not rise for ten years.

“I have incentives for states not to sell to children, advertise or advertise themselves to children,” said Mace The Hill. “My tax is much lower at 3 percent. After three years they are eight years old, and we all know that you will guarantee illegal markets if you pay too much taxes.

MP Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), co-chairman of Congressional Cannabis Caucus, wrote in an article for Marijuana Moment, a publication that focuses on marijuana policy, that he will not support the bill on Friday as well.

To end prohibition responsibly, the federal government must simultaneously issue a regulatory framework that works in conjunction with the specific needs of the states. The MORE Act does not have this critical element, nor any significant and immediate regulatory safeguards, leaving it to individual states to deal with problems normally reserved for federal agencies in the meantime, ”Joyce wrote.

Over the past year, the Chamber has repeatedly passed regulations that allow legally operating marijuana companies to access banking services and credit cards, so that they do not have to be just cash. So far, nine Senate Republicans have signed up as co-sponsors of Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) Accompanying Bill in the upper house to narrow down the legalization of marijuana.

Emily Brooks contributed to this.

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