House passes historic bill that would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level

House passes historic bill that would decriminalize cannabis on the federal level

By Rudabeh Shahbazi, Sydney Kalich, and Haley Townsend

The U.S. House of Representatives Friday passed a historic bill that would decriminalize cannabis, ending a federal ban and creating potential to expunge related criminal records.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances as well as eliminate criminal action for people who distribute or possess marijuana.

The bill would also establish a trust fund to support programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D.-NY. The bill passed the House Friday and is now moving to the Senate for a vote. The House is controlled by Democrats whereas the Senate has a Republican majority.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a hollow political gesture and criticized Democrats for bringing it up at a time when thousands of Americans are dying from the coronavirus pandemic.

“With all the challenges America has right now, (Republicans) think COVID relief should be on the floor, but instead, the Democrats put cats and cannabis” on the House floor, said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “They’re picking weed over the workers. They’re picking marijuana over (providing) the much-needed money we need to go forward″ to address the pandemic.

McCarthy’s comment about cats referred to a separate bill approved by the House to ban private ownership of big cats such as lions and tigers, a measure boosted by the Netflix series “Tiger King.″ That bill, approved by the House on Thursday, would allow most private zoos to keep their tigers and other species but would prohibit most public contact with the animals.

Continue Reading