On Friday (December 4), the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana in a historic 228-164 vote. Six Democrats voted against the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, while five Republicans voted in favor of it.
The bill removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, expunges previous marijuana convictions, and orders resentencing for all people currently imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses.
The move to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level comes as 15 states have legalized the drug for recreational use in recent years. Thirty-eight states currently have laws allowing marijuana to be used to treat a variety of medical conditions.
"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," said Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. "It's time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people."
The bill was opposed by many Republicans, who blasted the Democrats for bringing up the legislation instead of focusing on a coronavirus relief package.
"Not only is this a dereliction of duty, the bill is simply bad policy," Arizona Congresswoman Debbie Lesk said in a statement. "It does nothing to deter the use of marijuana by children, fails to require a warning label on the health risks posed by marijuana, and disregards science that shows marijuana directly affects parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning."
The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate.
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