US House of Representatives approves decriminalization of marijuana

On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that would decriminalize marijuana in the nation. A total of 220 representatives supported the bill. Meanwhile, 204 voted against the bill. 

Decriminalization Of Marijuana
Capitol the United States building with the dome lit up at night the Senate House sides of the building

With the Democrats controlling both US houses, supporters are optimistic that the legislation will finally become law. However, the bill still faces severe opposition in the upper chamber, where 50 Democrats and ten Republicans voted against the bill. 

A first step toward legalizing marijuana, the bill aims to remove the damage caused by the punitive drugs laws. Instead of controlling the substance, the MORE bill has decided to impose a federal tax on cannabis products.  

With the approval of the House of Representatives, amendments were added to the bill. This includes prioritizing the National Institute for Occupational and Safety requirement to conduct a study on the ‘impact of the legalization of recreational cannabis by states on the workplace to analyze and motivate employers to be productive in reporting and updating the cannabis policies. 

In December 2020, there was a failed attempt at a similar bill. But the impending period made the representatives hopeful about the final bill.  

Maritza Perez, Director of the Drug Policy Action Office for National Affairs, made a statement regarding the case in her recent interview with ‘The Verge’. 

“I feel a lot more optimistic than I did last time around, the bill is the same version passed in 2020, with no substantive changes, so hopefully, everyone who voted last time will vote in favor again,” she said. 

One of the prominent sponsors of the bill, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, said the recent scenarios from state legislation had compelled Congress to act. He also expressed his hope that the Senate would finally pass the act, and thus, the federal government could join dozens of states in putting a full stop to the destructive policies. 

However, President Biden hasn’t shown support for the bill, making it still anti-cannabis. In addition, Biden had an opportunity to reduce cannabis restrictions, but he didn’t act so. Even in the president’s budget proposal, he didn’t remove the block to legalizing marijuana sales.  

Despite all these, Perez is hopeful about the lenient actions of the president to diminish the marijuana-related crime rates.  

“To me, that’s pretty shocking. You would think the budget is an area where Biden could make a statement,” she said. “This tells me where his mind is; he believes more research is still needed.” 

In the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden stated he would seek to reschedule cannabis as a schedule two drug so that the researchers can examine the positive and negative impacts. Even after months had passed, he didn’t take the necessary actions on rescheduling. 

Aside from the approval vote from the US House of Representatives for the legalization of cannabis, the drug is no longer on the federal list of controlled substances.  

Marijuana is an effective element in various medications and is widely used in pharmaceuticals. Besides being beneficial, they arouse obsessiveness among marijuana users. They deeply affect the brain and mind of the users. Gradually the users become addicted to the drugs without realizing it.  

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