The House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, following the lead of many states that have either legalized recreational use of the drug or decriminalized it.
Republicans in the House derided the vote as “prioritizing pot over paychecks” given that a bi-partisan effort is currently underway to pass a $908 billion pandemic relief bill, which includes $288 billion in new funding for the Paycheck Protection Act. That funding will help save thousands of small businesses and tens of thousands of jobs so it’s kind of weird that Democrats would prioritize decriminalizing pot over saving jobs.
“These are the actions the Democrats take, the first actions after a national election,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “Maybe that is why our party almost took back the majority.”
Democrats rejected a GOP amendment that would allow private employees to continue to test for marijuana use.
The author of the amendment, Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, said private employers must have the ability to test workers for marijuana to ensure workplace safety. The bill includes a similar provision for the federal government for certain jobs.
That’s just insane. You can lose your driver’s license for driving under the influence of pot but employers can’t test you to see if you’re high on the job?
“If we are serious about criminal justice reform, we need to get rid of the antiquated cannabis laws that disproportionately impact people of color,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, said Friday.
The bill would implement a process to review sentences and expunge convictions for some marijuana offenses and would bar the denial of federal benefits for those convicted of marijuana-related offenses.
Police are arresting too many black people so we have to do something about that. Maybe we should legalize another dangerous drug?
In fact, we already have plenty of drugs that are dangerous and legal. There is no more dangerous substance than alcohol, which is highly addictive and costs society hundreds of billions of dollars every year in lost work, family breakups, and treatment.
And while we know a lot more about marijuana and its effect on the human body than we did a decade ago, the drug’s interaction with the human brain is still something of a mystery. Anything more than “moderate” use (3-4 times a month) can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to depression, ennui, and an alteration in the user’s personality.
The question isn’t whether marijuana is dangerous or not, or whether too many black people are being arrested. The question has to be do we really want another dangerous drug made widely available by decriminalizing or legalizing it?
The legislation would create a 5% federal tax on all cannabis products and create an “opportunity trust fund” to help those whose marijuana-related convictions are overturned.
Fifteen states so far have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, though it remains strictly illegal on the federal level. Other states have lowered penalties and legalized medical use of the drug.
Sure. The feds see the states raking in tax money and want to wet their whistle. Tax revenue should be the last reason to pass this legislation.
The bill has little chance in the Senate, even if Democrats win nominal control of the body. It would have to survive a 60-vote filibuster and that’s not going to happen. But as more states legalize pot, the more the federal prohibition against it becomes unenforceable.