House votes on bill to legalize marijuana

Bestinau got that-

Adam Eidinger along with other marijuana advocates in DC gathered on the east side of the US Capitol Plaza grounds to urge Congressional lawmakers to lower restrictions on marijuana use in the District of Columbia, and made a further statement by illegally smoking marijuana and subsequently being arrested, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Monday, April 24, 2017.

Melina Mara | The Washington Post | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The House is expected to vote Friday on legislation that would legalize marijuana nationwide, eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who produces, distributes or possesses the substance.

The legislation, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, was passed in the House last year but failed to progress in the Senate. The bill would also establish procedures for erasing previous convictions from people’s records and levy a tax on the sale of cannabis products.

The tax would start at 5 percent and eventually go up to 8 percent. Funding raised through the tax would go to a fund for vocational training, mentoring, substance use treatment, legal aid, re-entry services and youth recreation programs. It would also provide loans to help small businesses in the cannabis industry that are “owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals,” according to a summary of the bill.

“This groundbreaking legislation is one of the most significant criminal justice reform bills in recent history,” D-Calif. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in comments on the measure Thursday.

Pelosi said the legislation would “provide justice to those harmed by the brutal, unfair consequences of criminalization,” provide opportunities for people to participate in the industry, and decriminalize pot at the federal level “so we can correct the grave mistakes of our don’t repeat the past.”

Thirty-seven states and Washington, DC have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, with 18 states and DC legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Pelosi highlighted the changes that have been made at the state level in recent decades.

“Now is the time for the federal government to follow suit,” she said.

Meanwhile, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has been working with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Booker, DN.J., to draft similar legalization legislation in their chambers. The prospects of passing such a bill in the Senate appear low, as Democrats need all their members and 10 Republicans to overcome a 60-vote hurdle needed to advance to a final vote.

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