• By The Financial District

U.S. HOUSE PASSES BILL DECRIMINALIZING MARIJUANA

The US House on Friday passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, as Democrats sought to roll back and compensate for decades of drug policies that have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos reported for the New York Times early on Satuday, December 5, 2020 in Manila.

The 228-164 vote to approve the measure was bipartisan, and it was the first time either chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis. The bill would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize a 5 percent tax on marijuana that would fund community and small business grant programs to help those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana, Reuters also reported. The legislation is, for now, almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate, where that party’s leaders have derided it as a superficial distraction from the work of passing coronavirus relief, as lawmakers inched toward bipartisan compromise after spending months locked in an impasse.


But the bill’s passage in the House amounted to a watershed moment decades in the making for advocates of marijuana legislation, and it laid out an expansive federal framework for redressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system exacerbated by the war on drugs. “The effects of marijuana prohibition have been particularly felt by communities of color because it has meant that people from the communities couldn’t get jobs,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.


Mr. Nadler, who spearheaded the legislation with Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California and the vice president-elect, described the collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession as creating “an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans.”