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House passes marijuana legalization bill

The bill will now move to the Senate where Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is working on mirror legislation.

Published: April 1, 2022 1:29pm

Updated: April 1, 2022 2:04pm

The Democrat-led House on Friday passed legislation to legalize marijuana nationwide, eliminating the longstanding criminal penalties for those who distribute and possess it.

The bill passed primarily along party lines (220-204), with all but three Republicans voting 'no,' and all but two Democrats voting 'yes.'

The legislation will now head to the Senate where it will likely face an uphill battle toward passage, but has a powerful ally in Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is working with several of his colleagues to introduce a twin bill sometime this spring.

The Senate bill face's an uncertain future because it would have to clear the 60-vote threshold. Even some within Schumer's own caucus, including Sens. Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), have expressed skepticism.\

The House bill is called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, and if enacted would expunge marijuana-related offenses from people's records and formally remove the drug from the federal list of controlled substances.

The legislation would also apply a 5% federal tax on marijuana sales (that would gradually increase to 8%), funds from which would go toward programs directed at helping communities that have been harmed by policies related to the "war on drugs." 

A majority of U.S. states, as well as four territories and the District of Columbia currently allow the use of medical marijuana, and 18 states, as well as two territories and D.C. allow the use of the drug for non-medical purposes.