house: US House passes bill to decriminalise cannabis



WASHINGTON: The House passed legislation on Friday to decriminalise marijuana at the federal level as Democrats and three Republicans banded together to capitalise on the political resonance of legalised cannabis as an issue of economic growth, racial justice and states’ rights.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which passed 220-204, is unlikely to secure 60 votes to pass the Senate, despite the backing of the majority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer. But supporters of marijuana decriminalisation said on Friday the vote was a necessary step toward building consensus on something that can become law.
The bill would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, impose an 8% tax on cannabis products, allow some convictions on cannabis charges to be expunged and press for sentencing reviews. It would also make Small Business Administration loans available to cannabis businesses. By lowering law enforcement and incarceration costs and imposing new taxation, the bill would save the government millions of dollars. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the act would reduce the federal deficit by nearly $3 billion over the next decade.


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