Updated: Dec 16, 2022
On 4th December 2020, the House of Representatives passed a historical bill that seeks to decriminalize marijuana by a vote of 228-168. The long-overdue bill will become law when it passes the Senate and is signed by President Joe Biden. If this happens, it will help to harmonize the state and national drug policies in America.
Marijuana was criminalized in the 70s drug policy dubbed Controlled Substance Act. Cannabis was classified as a schedule 1 drug to mean it has no medical value and can be addictive and easily abused. Despite the national prohibition of marijuana, different states have passed ballot votes to legalize it as a medicinal and recreational drug. Almost 40 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 15 have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Those in support of the bill were five republicans, one libertarian (Justin Amash), and 222 Democrats.
What does the bill propose?
The bill seeks to clear criminal records for individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses and conduct new hearings. It also helps boost small scale marijuana businesses by making it easy for them to access grants and loans. Thirdly, and most importantly, the bill seeks to eradicate inequalities in criminal justice. People of color have been primarily affected by the war on drugs.
Statistics show that black and brown people are almost four times more likely to get arrested for a marijuana-related offense than any other community. The bill intends to change the narrative by imposing a 5% tax on retail marijuana and direct the funds towards creating a trust fund for different initiatives like job training for individuals and communities affected by the war on drugs.
The Global Movement
Many individual’s lives have been ruined for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Families have been torn apart, with children growing without their parents’ love and care because of one cannabis-related offense. This is the reason so many Americans (68% according to GALLUP) support the legalization of marijuana. In December, the UN removed marijuana from its list of the most dangerous drugs.
This is not happening in the United States alone. Many countries are joining the global movement geared towards the legalization of cannabis. Considering that the plant is highly therapeutic with a myriad of untapped medical potential, it deserves better than regular condemnation.
What’s next for weed in the United States?
President Joe Biden has been advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana for years. It is hard to determine whether he will be open to a more progressive approach toward the marijuana issue. The United States Chamber is equally divided, meaning it has an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and his Democrat colleagues will be in charge of setting the House schedule. With the weight of the presidency backing him up, the MORE Act may stand a chance at becoming law.
People are becoming more open to the idea of marijuana being beneficial to them in various ways. Slowly but surely, the stigma surrounding the plant is getting diluted, and eventually, we will live in a world of more cannabis-accepting individuals. For now, we wait and see how the house of representatives decides to move forward with the MORE Act.