US lawmakers vote to decriminalize and tax marijuana — Analysis

House Bill calls for elimination of all criminal penalties for possessing, manufacturing or distributing cannabis products in the United States

The US legislature passed legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, making it decriminalized nationwide. This is after 18 states have allowed recreational cannabis use within their borders for at least ten years.

On Friday, the House Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act was approved by a 220 204 vote. Two Democrats and three Republicans voted for the bill. Next, it will head to Senate. Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has pledged to introduce his own version of a marijuana-legalization bill by the end of this month.

“This landmark legislation is one of the most important criminal justice reform bills in recent history,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said before Friday’s vote.

1st Asian country decriminalizes marijuana

The Senate passed the bill and it was signed into law. This would allow for the legalization of cannabis production, distribution, and possession in the United States. The federal tax would be imposed on these products. It will start at 5%, and increase to 8% as time goes by. Revenues from the sale of those products could go towards social programs like job training or substance abuse treatment. People convicted of marijuana offenses in the past would be able to have those convictions removed from their criminal record.

A number of states, beginning with California in 1996, have also passed laws that permit medical marijuana use.

Barbara Lee, a representative from California (D-California), argued that House legislation was about “racial justice,”Citing an American Civil Liberties Union study, it is estimated that marijuana-related criminal charges are more common in blacks than they are for whites. “This is truly unjust, so we must end this failed policy of marijuana prohibition, which has led to the shattering of so many lives, primarily black and brown people,”Sie said.

Democrats might face difficult challenges in securing legalization of marijuana by the Senate. In order to prevent opposition from blocking a vote, the party will need to have all of its senators along with 10 Republican members support the bill.

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