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Federal lawmakers to vote on federally decriminalizing marijuana

10 months 1 week 4 days ago Friday, December 04 2020 Dec 4, 2020 December 04, 2020 8:56 AM December 04, 2020 in News
Source: ABC News

WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers are preparing to vote on the federal decriminalization of marijuana, Friday.

The US House of Representatives is generally expected to approve the bill, but the proposed measure's survival among the Republican-controlled Senate is widely viewed as questionable.

According to ABC News, The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. and is designed to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances as well as expunge certain marijuana-related criminal records.

That said, it would remain up to individual states to pass their own regulations on the sale of marijuana.

According to ABC News, some Republican lawmakers criticized discussion of the bill as relatively unimportant in comparison with discussion centered around pandemic-related issues when floor time is limited and considered precious to lawmakers.

“Democrats want to focus on cannabis and cats, not COVID relief,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at a news conference in the Capitol on Thursday. “You’d think after a humiliating defeat at the ballot box this year, where Democrats didn't defeat one Republican incumbent, that Democrats would get the picture that Americans are demanding action on issues that matter to them.”

Meanwhile, a number of Democratic lawmakers stand behind their conviction that the bill touches on increasingly sensitive issues currently impacting the US, such as racial disparity and prejudice against people of color. 

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), though marijuana use is roughly equal among people who identify as Blacks and people who identify as whites, Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Some believe it's this sort of disparity that leads to community frustration and, in desperate attempts to facilitate change, civil unrest. 

Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, called on lawmakers “to take a stand” for “restorative justice, to stand for racial justice, to stand for criminal justice reform, and to stand with the majority of Americans demanding reforms to our nation’s cannabis policy.”

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