House Passes Bill To Federally Decriminalize Marijuana

In an unprecedented move on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. The vote garnered a very slim bipartisan support, with 220 in favor of the bill and 204 who opposed, CNN reports.

The bill will make its way to the Senate where supporters of the legislation remain hopeful that it will pass into law since Democrats control both houses, according to The Verge.

Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Brian Mast R-Fla., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., united with Democrats in supporting the bill. However, Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Chris Pappas D-N.H., opposed the policy, according to CNN.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would eliminate cannabis from the federal government’s list of Schedule 1 substances under the Controlled Substances Act, include an 8% tariff on cannabis products, expunge criminal convictions on marijuana charges and review sentences on both the federal and state level.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said non-violent cannabis charges “can haunt people of color and impact the trajectory of their lives and career indefinitely.”

“It can result in difficulty finding employment, difficulty finding housing, denial of access of federal benefits, denial of financial aid at colleges and universities, and denial of the right to vote,” Hoyer said, CNN reports. “That’s why we’re dealing with this.”

There would also be a provision for the availability of Small Business Administration loans and services to start cannabis businesses, The New York Times reports.

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi applauded the bill during her weekly news conference and told reporters the legislation is “consistent with what is happening in many states across the country.”

“It also addresses the injustices of it because of what penalties had been before some of these, this decriminalization took place,” she continued, according to CNN. “So I’m all for it.”