The U.S. House ‘Puff, Puff, Pass’ a Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana

Photo Credit: Hilary Swift,

Kaikoha De Brum, OwlFeed News Reporter

After a decades long battle, the House of Representatives passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana. On Friday, the MORE Act was passed 228-164. Five Republicans voted in favor of the bill, however, six Democrats voted against it.

Thirty-six states, plus the District of Columbia, have already legalized medical cannabis, while 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use. Marijuana was just legalized for recreational use in Arizona when voters passed Prop 207.  

The House bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. It would place a five percent tax on the drug that would help struggling communities and small businesses. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told ABCnews, “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.” 

Although the bill was passed in the House of Representatives, many predict it is “doomed” in the Republican-led Senate. Republicans have argued against the bill, blaming marijuana for the increase in traffic deaths and as a gateway drug. 

 After hearing this, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, replied, “There is ample scientific evidence demonstrating that the use of marijuana does not cause the use of other illicit substances. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the majority of marijuana users do not use other harder substances.”

If this bill is passed in the Senate, federal courts would be required to release those convicted for nonviolent, marijuana-related offenses. Grant programs would be set up to help with job training programs, legal aid and substance abuse treatment. 

In a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union, it was shown in 2018 that black people were three times more likely than white people to be arrested for the possession of marijuana, despite using the drug at a similar rate. 

Nadler pointed out provisions from the MORE Act were about “making people whole from harms suffered directly as a result of the marijuana ban,” according to ABC News. 

However, Democrats have faced criticism from the opposing party for focusing on marijuana legalization, despite growing concerns over COVID-19. On Thursday House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy commented that Democrats were “focused on cats and cannabis instead of COVID.” 

Although the bill was passed in the House of Representatives, it still has a long way to go in the Senate.