NATIONAL NEWS

House votes to decriminalize marijuana, but Senate fate dim

Apr 1, 2022, 1:44 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:36 pm

Plants grow at a Tryke medical marijuana facility in Utah. (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)...

Plants grow at a Tryke medical marijuana facility in Utah. (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)

(Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Marijuana would be decriminalized at the federal level under legislation the House approved Friday as Democrats made the case for allowing states to set their own policies on pot.

The bill is unlikely to become law since it is expected to die in the Senate. That would mirror what happened when a similar House-passed measure removing marijuana from the list of federally-controlled substances went nowhere in the Senate two years ago.

Still, Friday’s vote gave lawmakers the chance to state their view on a decriminalization push that appears to have broad support with voters across the country.

The 2020 election showed how broadly accepted marijuana has become, with measures to legalize recreational pot breezing to victory in progressive New Jersey, moderate Arizona and conservative Montana and South Dakota.

The House approved the bill Friday with a mostly party-line vote of 220-204. All but two voting Democrats backed the measure, while only three Republicans did.

The measure would require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions and conduct resentencing hearings for those completing their sentences. It also authorizes a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products that would be used for grant programs focused on job training, substance abuse treatment and loans to help disadvantaged small businesses get into the marijuana industry.

Democrats said the nation’s federal prohibition on marijuana has had particularly devastating consequences for minority communities. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., cited statistics that showed Black Americans were four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though they use it at similar rates.

“Those criminal records can haunt people of color and impact the trajectory of their lives indefinitely,” Hoyer said. “I regret that there are some members of our Congress who apparently think that’s not worthy of attention.”

“Make no mistake, yes, it is a racial justice bill,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

Republicans who opposed the measure said marijuana is a gateway drug that would lead to greater use of opioids and other dangerous substances. They also said the pot sold today is far more potent than what was sold decades ago, leading to greater impairment for those who use it. They said decriminalization is not the priority that lawmakers should be focused on now, with the war in Ukraine and inflation driving up the cost of gas, food and other essential items.

“Yet the priority of this Congress now turns to expanding access to addictive, behavior-altering recreational drugs at a time when our country is also experiencing increased addiction, depression and suicide,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va.

Thirty-seven states and District of Columbia allow the medical use of cannabis products while 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“If states are the laboratories of democracy, it is long past time for the federal government to recognize that legalization has been a resounding success and that the conflict with federal law has become untenable,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

In the Senate, Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked colleagues in early February for their input on a marijuana decriminalization bill. He said after the House vote that they were still working on crafting the legislation, but he hoped it would be introduced “very soon.”

“Of course, we will need Republicans to pass a legalization bill in the Senate, and we will be working hard to try and get them,” Schumer said.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

This image released by Disney/Pixar shows Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, left, and Anxiety, voiced by ...

Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press

‘Inside Out 2’ scores massive $155 million opening

Hollywood’s summer movie anxieties gave way to joy this weekend with the massive debut of Disney and Pixar’s “ Inside Out 2.” The animated sequel earned $155 million in ticket sales from 4,440 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates Sunday.

11 hours ago

Evidence markers are placed at the scene of a shooting at a splash pad in Rochester Hills, Michigan...

Dalia Faheid, Paradise Afshar, Sara Smart, Kim Berryman and Sharif Paget, CNN

Police search for motive after apparent ‘random’ shooting at Michigan recreation center wounds at least 9

Police are looking for a motive after at least nine people were shot in what appears to be a “random” shooting that sent panicked families fleeing a crowded recreation area in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on Saturday afternoon, authorities said.

12 hours ago

A driver blinks their hazard lights as heavy rain falls over parts of South Florida on Wednesday, J...

Associated Press

Much of US braces for extreme weather, from southern heat wave to possible snow in the Rockies

After days of intense flooding in Florida, that state and many others are bracing for an intense heat wave, while the Pacific Northwest will experience unseasonably cold weather and there is a potential for late-season snow in the Rocky Mountains early next week.

1 day ago

The flag installation seen in June 2023 on the fence at Christopher Park is part of the Stonewall N...

Ashley R. Williams, CNN

LGBTQ Pride Month flags vandalized near Stonewall National Monument, police say

Flags dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month were vandalized this week in New York City, according to the city’s police department.

2 days ago

Aerial view over the airport of Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, USA with view over the runway to the coastlin...

Gregory Wallace and Ross Levitt, CNN

FAA investigating Southwest flight that came within 400 feet of crashing into the ocean

A federal investigation is underway after a Southwest Airlines flight plunged toward the ocean off the coast of a Hawaiian island.

2 days ago

Susan Elandt has owned a child care center in the small city of Waupaca, Wisconsin, since 2016. She...

Meena Duerson and Tami Luhby, CNN

‘Just too burnt out’: Child care crisis crunches providers

While the price of keeping children in care is sky-high, the burden of running childcare centers is equally unsustainable. Providers are burnt out.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

House votes to decriminalize marijuana, but Senate fate dim