US House of Representatives passes bill to decriminalise cannabis

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Apr 01, 2022, 11:31 PM(IST)

(Representational Image) Hemp is cannabis grown for medicinal purposes Photograph:( ANI )

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However, the bill is likely to have a tough time in Senate where Democrats would need 10 opposition lawmakers to support them

US House of Representatives on Friday (April 1) cleared a bill to decriminalise marijuana. If the bill is okayed by the Senate and signed by President Biden, it will eliminate punishments for providing or possessing the drug.

The Democrats' Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would remove its categorization alongside heroin and cocaine as a dangerous controlled narcotic under federal laws mandating tough sentences.

The bill was cleared by 220 votes to 204. Three Republicans crossed the aisle.

However, the bill is likely to have a tough time in Senate where Democrats would need 10 opposition lawmakers to support them.

The US government is out of line with three-quarters of states that have legalized marijuana for medical use and a third of states, like Colorado and Washington, that have freed it for recreational use, too.

"If states are the laboratories of democracy, it is long past time for the federal government to recognize that this experiment in legalization has been a resounding success," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, one of the bill's sponsors, said.

Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with sales hitting $25 billion in 2021, according to influential cannabis website Leafly, and projected to reach $40.5 billion by 2025.

A report released in February by the Seattle-based company said the legalized cannabis industry provides work for more than 400,000 Americans and created some 280 new jobs a day last year.

California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, made $1 billion in tax revenue in the first two years after expanding to full recreational use in 2018.

But it remains illegal under federal law, posing significant hurdles for businesses that find themselves barred from accessing financial services and unable to secure loans or open bank accounts.

(With inputs from agencies)

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