Legislation that would federally decriminalize marijuana passes in Dem-controlled House

As dozens of states have made marijuana legal either medicinally or recreationally — or both, — the last hurdle for advocates for legalizing the organic drug is the federal level, where it’s still considered an illegal drug.

A number of attempts have been made to launch federal decriminalization of the drug, but the movement finally gained momentum this week after the House successfully passed a bill that would do just that, which means a number of marijuana-related convictions would be immediately overturned, the Washington Examiner reports.

In a 220–204 vote, the Democrat-led House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which if passed in the Senate, where it has stalled in the past, would mark a paradigm shift in existing marijuana laws, and possibly spur even more states to legalize the drug.

The Examiner added: “The legislation includes language to impose a federal tax on marijuana sales, expunge marijuana-related convictions from individuals’ records, and remove it from the federal list of controlled substances.”

Supporters rejoice

Many who’ve supported such efforts in the past cheered the House’s successful vote, saying the bill will go a long way in tackling criminal justice reform, among other positive outcomes.

“The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or the MORE Act, is long overdue legislation that would reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of marijuana,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY).

He added: “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice or public health. Whatever one’s views on marijuana for recreation or medicinal, prosecution has proven unwise or unjust.”

Messages of support also began to pour in over social media.

Critics disagree

While marijuana doesn’t have quite the reputation it once had, plenty of critics on the right believe decriminalizing the drug will have vast consquences, including Rep. Bob Good (R-VA).

“We have rising violent crime in Democrat-run cities across the country, more drug use won’t help that. We have 100,000 Americans die of overdoses last year, the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18 to 45,” said Good. “More drug use won’t help that.”

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