Bills to legalize marijuana nationwide approved by U.S. House for first time

The legislation likely won’t advance in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 1:12 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WJRT) - The full U.S. House is set to consider a pair of bills that would legalize marijuana nationwide.

House Resolutions 1244 and 3884 are the first national marijuana legalization bills to come before the full House of Representatives for consideration. The bills passed by a vote of 228-164 on Friday with mostly Republicans against it.

The legislation now heads to U.S. Senate, which remains under Republican control and isn’t likely to advance. Separate legislation that passed the House last year to give marijuana businesses access to traditional banks has languished in the Senate.

For federal criminal laws, the package of bills would:

  • Decriminalize marijuana across the country in federal law.
  • Prohibit the denial of federal benefits to anyone convicted of most marijuana crimes.
  • Prohibit immigration actions based on most marijuana convictions.
  • Establish a process to expunge marijuana convictions and review offenders’ sentences.

The bills also would set up federal business infrastructure to monitor, regulate and tax the burgeoning marijuana industry by:

  • Imposing a 5% tax on cannabis products, which would go into a trust fund set up to support communities affected by the war on drugs.
  • Requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to publish demographic data on marijuana businesses and employees.
  • Allowing the Small Business Administration to provide services to marijuana businesses.
  • Directing the Government Accountability Office to study the effects of legalizing cannabis.

Michigan voters approved statewide initiatives in 2008 to legalize medical marijuana and in 2018 to legalize recreational use of marijuana. After the 2020 elections, 36 states now allow medical marijuana and 15 allow broad recreational use.

Republican Congressman John Moolenaar of Midland blasted Democrats in the U.S. House who voted to bring the marijuana legislation up for debate and voted against a bill he cosponsored to provide a new round of funding from the Paycheck Protection Program.

House Resolution 8265 would allow for $138 billion worth of forgivable loans for small businesses with fewer than 10 employees who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“While state shutdowns hurt locally-owned restaurants and their employees, House Democrats are wasting precious time instead of immediately re-opening the Paycheck Protection Program and helping Michigan families,” said Moolenaar.

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