According to Just the News, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives could be on the verge of taking a massive step toward marijuana legalization sometime this week. As that outlet reports:
The Democrat-controlled House is expected this week to pass legislation that will legalize marijuana.
The initiative has close to full support from House Democrats and a powerful friend in Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer, who is hoping to introduce a Senate version of the bill this spring.
That bill, authored by Rep. Nadler and called the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act,” would, in the words of the Hill:
“remove cannabis from the list of federal controlled substances and eliminate criminal penalties associated with the drug.
It would also impose a federal tax on marijuana sales to fund programs to help communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs.”
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That’s a massive step; up until now, weed offenses have been, if tolerated in many cases, offenses that could draw a heavy penalty, particularly for drug dealers.
Now, if Nadler’s bill is passed, the US will be effectively admitting that it lost the war on drugs and such offenses will no longer exist.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, writing about the bill in a “Dear Colleague” letter, said that:
“This legislation — which the House passed last Congress — would decriminalize marijuana, expunge the federal arrests and convictions of nonviolent marijuana offenders, prohibit the denial of federal public benefits, and provide resources to support long-term economic recovery efforts for communities of color.”
Similarly, Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said that:
“What we have seen is that the majority of people now realize that the war on drugs failed. Drugs are more accessible and cheaper and more potent and dangerous. Nobody won this war, except people who were involved with the drug dealers themselves.”
While many of the statements, and indeed even the bill itself, focus on minorities and those communities framed as being victimized by the war on drugs, the real impetus behind the vote is likely that the average American’s view on marijuana has changed.
Whereas many Americans used to be against allowing the devil’s lettuce to be smoked, in recent years public opinion has swung behind legalization. Pew Research, reporting on the electorate’s view on the subject as of April of 2021, noted that:
As more states, including Virginia and New York, continue to legalize marijuana, an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (91%) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use (60%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (31%). Fewer than one-in-ten (8%) say marijuana should not be legal for use by adults.
So, while the effort is cloaked in social justice language, the real impetus is likely popularity. Americans are in favor of such legislation, so, whether legalization is right or wrong from a morality and public health sense, the politicians with their fingers in the air are looking for a PR win with a bill likely to be highly popular with the pot-smoking masses.