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U.S. House of Representatives votes to decriminalize cannabis

In a historic first, today lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunities, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would expunge federal marijuana convictions, decriminalize cannabis at a federal level, and impose a 5% federal tax on cannabis products, some of which would go to programs designed to mitigate harm caused by the War on Drugs. The vote was 228-164, and marks the first time a US congressional body has voted to overturn cannabis prohibition.

“This legislation does not legalize cannabis across the country. It stops the federal government from interfering with what states have decided to do,” Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in debate.

“We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana,” he said. “The American people have all ready done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with the disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 50 million regular marijuana users [who live in] every one of your districts…It’s time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

While the majority of the House of Representatives have proved they want to catch up with the rest of the American people, the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to do the same. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has openly mocked Democrats for “spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana.”

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