Bill decriminalizing marijuana passes House committee

Washington DC Bureau
Data pix.

WASHINGTON — A House committee in Washington says it’s time to make marijuana legal.

For the first time ever, a congressional committee has voted to decriminalize the drug. Even so, the bill has almost no chance of becoming law.

If the ‘More Act’ passes, it would forever change the way marijuana is handled in the U.S. “For too long we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said.

Nadler’s bill is a sweeping shift from current federal marijuana policy. “This is basically a conservative bill. It’s a states’ rights bill. It says the federal government gets out of the business and leaves it up to the states,” Nadler said.

Under the act, previous marijuana convictions would be expunged, VA doctors could prescribe marijuana and weed-related dispensaries could apply for loans through the Small Business Administration.

“These steps are long overdue,” Nadler said.

Some on the committee say the bill goes too far. "The bill is nearly devoid of bipartisan support, and it fails to address many of the critical issues surrounding cultivation, distribution, sale and use of marijuana,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) said. “This bill also fails to set any standards to prevent marijuana, THC concentrates, vaping products and edibles from getting into the hands of those who should not have them.”

Some Senators, like Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, says it’s unlikely the Senate would ever vote to fully decriminalize marijuana. “I think the interest in the senate would be pretty much narrowly confined to medicinal marijuana,” Brown said.

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