House passes bill decriminalizing marijuana federally

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The House passed legislation that will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by a vote of 220 to 204 on Friday (April 1).

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, leaving full control to states to determine their own laws. If the MORE Act passes the Senate, those incarcerated on charges related to marijuana under 30 grams would be released.

It would also clear all charges against those who manufacture, possess or distribute the substance.

This comes after a failed attempt to pass similar cannabis legislation at the federal level through the Senate. In 2020, the Marijuana Bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate because of the former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Speaker of the Chamber Nancy Pelosi said in a statement: “There is so much discussion that has taken place over the years about the use of marijuana or cannabis or whatever. The fact is that it exists. He is used. We have to deal with how he is treated legally.”

The MORE Act aims to undo the damage that began with the President by Richard Nixon “War on Drugs” campaign that worked to end the use and trade of illicit drugs. With no rehabilitation or treatment efforts in place for those who abuse illegal substances, many nonviolent offenders have ended up behind bars.

This incarcerated a disproportionate number of people of color, especially black Americans. In 2020, American Civil Liberties reported that black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite using the substance at similar rates.

Once drug-using offenders are released from prison, the repercussions of their incarceration always follow them afterwards.

“Whether it’s denying them federal assistance or preventing them from getting work permits, all of these different laws create additional hurdles for people as they try to reintegrate into society,” Stephane Postcampaign strategist for the Last Prisoner Project, told ABC News.

If the bill can pass the Senate, the MORE Act would also launch a program designed to help communities of color with civil and criminal court cases, job training and health education programs, ABC News reports.

Representing Jerrold Nadlerthe author of the new bill, told ABC News “More than anything else, the MORE Act is about ending and reversing decades of failed federal policy that has wreaked havoc on too many people across the country. , with a disproportionate impact on communities of color.”

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