The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to decriminalize cannabis at a federal level in an historic first. The move could also pave the way for reassessments of previous federal marijuana convictions.
The bill passed the House in a 284-164 vote, with five Republicans breaking from their party and voting in favor, while six Democrats opposed. The bill will now move to the US Senate for further approval.
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act would not only decriminalize the drug, but also mandate reassessments of past federal marijuana convictions. It would also invest in legally-owned marijuana businesses.
In a debate on the bill on Friday morning, those in favor of the legislation argued that federal marijuana convictions have proven to be “unwise and unjust,” and the use of the drug should be a public health issue rather than a legal one.
Those opposed to the bill blasted marijuana as a gateway drug and argued legalization leads to an uptick in traffic crimes and deaths.
While the legalization of marijuana has remained a hot-button issue in the USA, 15 states and the District of Columbia have passed recreational use, and a total of 36 states and the District of Columbia have already approved medical use.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), a co-sponsor of the bill, admitted the legislation was “flawed,” but said he supported it because “the federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation.”
Gaetz blasted fellow Republicans for making arguments against marijuana decriminalization that “are overwhelmingly losing with the American people.”
The bill faces a tough road ahead, as the Senate is Republican-controlled, and it would need to reach a 60-vote threshold to pass.
If the bill did pass the Senate, it would still need a signature from President Donald Trump While Trump has championed criminal justice reform and said in the past he supports states setting their own policies on marijuana, it remains to be seen if he would support this bill.
Biden’s presidential campaign claimed he was for decriminalizing marijuana usage and expunging prior federal convictions.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point Herbal News 2020.