For the first time in history, the United States House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize cannabis. While historic, it is more of a symbolic gesture, signifying Congress’s embrace of a view that an overwhelming majority of Americans have.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act was voted on by the House on Friday, the first time Congress has ever voted on the decriminalization of marijuana. The final vote was 228 to 164.
While many marijuana rights advocates and criminal justice reform advocates are hopeful for the future, there is little hope to no hope that the bill will be passed in the Senate. As VICE writes, “Senate Republicans have indicated there’s no appetite to pass the measure.”
During the 2020 election, four more states (Montana, New Jersey, Arizona, and South Dakota) voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana — increasing the total to 15 states. On the medical use side of the coin, 38 states allow such use while it is still illegal on the federal level.
VICE also puts into perspective that just a decade ago, not a single state in the country allowed the recreational use of marijuana. There is a change happening in the country from both red and blue states.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, is one of the main representatives who helped craft the bill. During a House floor debate on Monday morning, he said, “We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana. The American people have already done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 15 million marijuana users 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.”
Lead image screenshot via FOX4.