House Passes Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana

Isabel Lopez, Multimedia Photo Editor

On Dec. 5, 2020, the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana. Though marijuana possession can still result in consequences, this bill reflects a shift in the government’s stance on the issue. 

The House of Representatives passed the bill with a 228-164 vote, according to CNN, with 222 Democrats, five Republicans and a libertarain, Representative Justin Amash, in favor of the bill. The opposition came from 158 Republicans and six Democrats.To see who voted for each side, click here.

This bipartisan legislation, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, offers protection for those with marijuana convictions. However, it does not make marijuana legal. If passed in the senate, this bill will just decriminalize marijuana, meaning it will make it not a criminal offense to produce, sell or own marijuana. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris introduced and sponsored this bill back in July 2019. 

Moreover, this act includes a five percent tax on marijuana, intended to fund the community,  small businesses and to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, according to New York Times. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is a federal law listing all substances and their goal to improve control of substances as a result of improper medical use, abusive authority and extensive dependence. An additional benefit of the act is that it allows veterans to use medical marijuania on the recommendation of Veteran Affairs doctors and create funding for those affected from substance abuse. 

U.S. Representative for New York’s tenth congressional district, Jerrold Nadler, described why he introduced the bill. According to Rolling Stone, Nadler explains how helpful the bill is for the United States. 

A tweet from Nadler expresses how he introduced this bill to maintain a meaningful impact on communities, small businesses, cannabis laws, and overall justice. He later states how it is time to make it a law.