The U.S. House is set to endorse a landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs Friday, voting to remove marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances and provide for the regulation and taxation of legal cannabis sales, the Washington Post reports. The measure is not expected to become law, and, due to political skittishness, it is coming to a vote only after the November election and more than a year after it emerged from committee. Still, the House is taking a stand at a moment of increasing momentum, with voters last month opting to liberalize marijuana laws in five states — including three that President Donald Trump won handily.
The vote marks the first time either chamber of Congress has voted on the issue of federally decriminalizing cannabis. Friday’s vote will take place largely along party lines, with Democrats voting overwhelmingly to support the federal decriminalization bill and Republicans broadly opposing it. “This movement in states is part of a larger evolution on marijuana policy by the American people, who are rejecting the failed War on Drugs — an approach that has disrupted the lives of millions of people needlessly through failed marijuana prohibition policies,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. Top Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — made derisive public comments about the bill this week, painting it as a frivolous diversion from the task of funding the federal government and delivering a new round of emergency coronavirus aid. Fifteen states have authorized some form of recreational cannabis legalization, while 36 states have approved medical marijuana programs.