House votes to legalize weed

Politico – by Natalie Fertig

The House on Friday passed a landmark bill that would remove federal penalties on marijuana and erase cannabis-related criminal records.

The bill passed by a vote of 228-164, with several Republicans on board. While the MORE Act is not expected to come up in the Senate this year, and likely won’t in the next session of Congress either, its passage nevertheless marks a monumental step in marijuana policy.

“We’ve been patient for years on this,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of the co-founders of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “My perspective was … that this Congress should not adjourn without addressing cannabis legalization, because it has such a profound effect on especially Black Americans [and] other people of color.”

Friday’s vote reflects the shift in American and global views on marijuana over the past decade: Polls show support for legalization has increased 20 percentage points, to 68 percent, since Colorado and Washington state legalized weed in 2012. One in 3 Americans now lives in a state where marijuana is legal for adults to use. Red states including Mississippi and South Dakota voted to allow medical or recreational marijuana on Election Day. The United Nations voted earlier this week to loosen treaty restrictions on marijuana.

The bill’s passage also sets a foundation for future marijuana legalization policy: one designed to address criminal justice reform and racial inequality. There were about 663,000 marijuana-related arrests in the U.S. in 2018 — about 43 percent of all drug arrests. An ACLU study in April found that Black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, even though both groups are equally likely to use marijuana.

House leadership promised advocates and progressives in 2019 that a vote on an industry-focused bill expanding access to banking for cannabis businesses would be followed by a broader bill to address the effects of marijuana being illegal under federal law for decades.

The MORE Act is that bill: It would remove federal criminal penalties on marijuana, erase nonviolent federal marijuana criminal records, provide money for states to scrub marijuana criminal records, too, and create grant programs to assist those affected following the Controlled Substances Act becoming law in the Nixon era.

“What we’re doing here is … recognizing that there is a longtime war on civil rights that was instituted by the Nixon administration,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the bill’s sponsor and chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “And we’re eliminating it.”

The MORE Act was first introduced in the summer of 2019 and moved out of the House Judiciary Committee last November. Then came the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd this year. By June 2020, an AP poll found that 94 percent of Americans said they believed the nation’s criminal justice system needed at least some changing.

“The smartest thing that happened to facilitate legalization was for criminal justice and racial justice issues to get elevated in the cannabis debate,” said John Hudak, an expert on cannabis policy at the Brookings Institution.

Racial justice always has been motivation for legalization in some arenas. But lawmakers traditionally have paired it with arguments about medical benefits for children and veterans, job creation and increased tax revenue. Only more recently have legislators shifted their tone to emphasize legalization’s criminal justice angles.

“When people ask me ‘What is systemic racism?’ I point to our drug laws in this country,” House Rules Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said this week. “People’s lives have been ruined — have been destroyed — by possessing just a small amount of cannabis.”

Plenty of lawmakers haven’t been swayed, however. A planned September vote on the MORE Act was delayed because moderates worried that voting on weed without passing another coronavirus aid package would hurt them on Election Day. And Republicans including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell chastised Democrats this week for voting on weed while a Covid aid bill still hangs in the balance.

“You’d think after a humiliating defeat at the ballot box this year, where Democrats didn’t defeat one Republican incumbent, that Democrats would get the picture that Americans are demanding action on issues that matter to them,” McCarthy said at a press conference Thursday.

Ahead of the vote, Republicans including Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona said removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act would jeopardize workplace safety. Others noted the lack of research on the health effects of cannabis and suggested reclassifying marijuana under federal law in a way that would make it easier to research but still restrict its use.

Read the rest here: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/04/house-votes-to-legalize-weed-442903

4 thoughts on “House votes to legalize weed

  1. I breathed a breath of fresh air this past summer when I saw an industrial hemp farm start growing operations just a couple miles from my house. Nice signage indicating the name of the company and it’s crop.
    The plantings only got to be knee high, visible from the road, and they were gone. Poof!
    I’m sure some government agency or another got its panties all twisted up and had them dug up and the farmer’s livelihood squashed. Probably even fined, but I’ve seen no evidence of abandonment by the cultivator, just no crop.
    Legal weed means nothing good. Restrictions abound like amounts of “usable ‘marijuanas'”, recreational growing limits, and don’t get me started on the TAXES!!
    The government takes a perfectly good and wonderful natural plant and ruins nearly every aspect of it for money and control.
    They see weed as another carrot to dangle in front of we donkeys, but I ain’t no livestock and refuse to be treated as such!

  2. We need to address the pot. Because the brown folk. You know.

    What a pandering leech. Earl bluemenflower is a c@nt.

    Wonder where he lives.

  3. Until weed is legal on a federal level, I will not be using it. In PA, you will loose your gun rights if you sign up for weed. Not worth it.

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