US House to Vote on Major Marijuana Law Overhaul This Month
One of the hottest topics over the past decade is the debate over whether or not to legalize & decriminalize marijuana. Some states, like Louisiana, have gone the medical marijuana route and have made certain forms of cannabis legal as long as it was prescribed by a doctor. Other places, like Colorado, have made recreational use legal and open for anyone of legal age. But, one place where little to no progress has been made is on the Federal level.
However, an upcoming vote could change that drastically. On a federal level, cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. A Schedule I drug is defined as a drug that has a high chance for abuse with no medical benefit. As decades of research has proven, marijuana does have medical benefits. So, removing it from the Schedule I list one would greatly reduce the penalty for being in possession of the drug and put a lot more power in the hands of states on the legalities of possessing and using the drug.
A bill to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and to erase some marijuana related criminal records will be introduced to the US House sometime during the September work period. You can read the full statement from Majority Whip James Clyburn on the proposal below:
However, there are some issues with the bill as proposed as some conservative members of the legislature believe the bill goes too far in respects of record expungement and funding the Opportunity Trust Fund. It remains to been seen if both sides of the aisle can reach a compromise or if it could pass the Senate in any fashion. This bill was introduced in November by House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler and was passed by a judiciary panel with a bipartisan vote of 24-10.
Currently, there are 11 states that have decriminalized and legalized marijuana. Many of those states have seen a large financial boom in both retail sales and jobs. Many others, including Louisiana, have medical marijuana laws where it can be prescribed by a physician to treat various ailments. And, whether this bill passes or not, it is the first serious attempt to reform the laws that have federally prohibited cannabis use. While there are valid points on both sides of the argument, it's a discussion that is long over due on the National level.