Who would have thought that the US House of Representatives would vote to legalize marijuana?
It is a momentous day in American history and is a total refutation of the War on Drug which began over 50 years ago.
Countless lives have been ruined and millions upon millions of dollars have been spent to arrest, prosecute and imprison tens of thousands of citizens.
The majority of whom are people of color whose only offense was to light up.
Excerpted from New York Times 12.4.2020
The House on Friday passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, as Democrats sought to roll back and compensate for decades of drug policies that have disproportionately affected low-income communities of color.
The 228-164 vote to approve the measure was bipartisan, and it was the first time either chamber of Congress had ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis. The bill would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and authorize a 5 percent tax on marijuana that would fund community and small business grant programs to help those most impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.
The legislation is, for now, almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate, where that party’s leaders have derided it as a superficial distraction from the work of passing coronavirus relief, as lawmakers inched toward bipartisan compromise after spending months locked in an impasse.
But the bill’s passage in the House amounted to a watershed moment decades in the making for advocates of marijuana legislation, and it laid out an expansive federal framework for redressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system exacerbated by the war on drugs.
“The effects of marijuana prohibition have been particularly felt by communities of color because it has meant that people from the communities couldn’t get jobs,” Representative Jerry Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview.
Mr. Nadler, who spearheaded the legislation with Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California and the vice president-elect, described the collateral consequences of a conviction for marijuana possession as creating “an often-permanent second-class status for millions of Americans.”