The House will vote Friday on a measure that would decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Wednesday.
House set to vote Friday on bill to legalize marijuana
Lawmakers will begin debating the measure on Thursday and will vote on it Friday, the Maryland Democrat said.
The bill would remove marijuana from the list of illegal drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act and would end criminal penalties for growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana.
Democratic leaders initially planned to bring up the bill for a vote in September but postponed consideration after some Democrats objected to the measure taking up floor time ahead of the election.
The bill would implement a process to review sentences and expunge convictions for marijuana offenses and would bar the denial of federal benefits for those convicted of marijuana-related offenses.
The legislation would create a 5% federal tax on all cannabis products.
The bill would follow in the footsteps of 15 states, so far, that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Other states have lowered penalties and legalized the medical use of the drug.
The House measure was introduced last year by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat who believes the criminalization of marijuana unfairly targets poor and minority groups.
“The hysteria around marijuana is starting to lift as states across the country lead the way in reforming their marijuana laws,” Nadler said in a statement about the bill. “It is time for the federal government to follow suit.”
Republicans have criticized the Democratic majority for prioritizing the legislation in the final days of Congress when both parties are struggling to pass a critical coronavirus relief bill.
“Are Democrats comfortable with Speaker Pelosi prioritizing pot over paychecks?” Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said in an email to reporters this week.