U.S. House of Representatives Passed a Bill Decriminalizing the Use of Marijuana

Aaliyah Marco, Reporter

On April 1st, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the decriminalization of marijuana in a vote of 220 to 204. Republicans Tom McClintock of California, Brian Mast and Matt Gaetz of Florida joined the majority of Democrats in supporting the bill, while Democrats Henry Cuellar of Texas and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire voted against.

The bill, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would clear any marijuana related convictions from people’s records and remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances.

House Democrats passed a marijuana legalization bill in December 2020, but it did not pass in the Senate, which was under Republican control at the time. The bill eliminated any charges or convictions of marijuana, decriminalized it, and allowed states to establish cannabis markets.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, had praised the legislation during her weekly news conference saying the legislation is “consistent with what is happening in many states across the country.” Adding, “So I’m all for it.”

The legislation would also add federal tax to marijuana sales to fund programs aimed at communities harmed by the drug war policies from the punishments of distributing drugs and using them. The sales tax would start immediately at 5 percent, then increase to 8 over the course of 4 to 5 years.

Proponents have argued that it’s been past due for a legalization of marijuana because of the states that hold the legalization to some extent. “Record crime, record inflation, record gas prices, record number of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, and what are Democrats doing today? Legalizing drugs. Legalizing drugs and using American tax dollars to kick start and prop up the marijuana industry. Wow,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

This bill is unlikely to advance further. The bill would need 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate to clear the filibuster, and Republicans have already indicated they will not support the measure.