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House Passes Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana at Federal Level

The House on Friday passed a landmark bill decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, a move that is supposedly aimed to reduce racial inequalities in drug arrests. The bill not only decriminalized marijuana, but also expunges nonviolent marijuana-related convictions.

The bipartisan vote was 228-164 and it was the first time either chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler believes this legislation "would reverse the failed policy of criminalizing marijuana on the federal level and would take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color."

Most republicans voted against the bill, blaming marijuana for increased traffic deaths and as a gateway drug. Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C. made a bizarre comparison to marijuana and other much heavier substances like cocaine to support his argument. Murphy argued, "Legalizing weed would create revenue from taxes, but at what cost? Do we then start legalizing cocaine? Marijuana is a gateway drug -- make no mistake about that. It undoubtedly leads to further and much more dangerous drug use."

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell feels as though the house is disconnected from the actual concerns of the American people. He believes that they should focus on passing parts of the Covid-19 stimulus bill that both parties agree on. A COVID-19 stimulus agreement has been up in the air for months, President Donald Trump blames House speaker Nancy Pelosi for “not negotiating in good faith.” In November, president Trump told the American people that he would not be considering another stimulus package until he is re-elected. Of Course, this did not go over well with voters.

McConnell took the Senate floor to bash the house, “The House of Representatives is spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana. You know, serious and important legislation befitting this national crisis," before calling it an “unserious bill.”

President-elect Joe Biden is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana and the automatic expungement of prior criminal records for marijuana possession, but not full legalization of the substance.

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