Divided US House committee backs pot decriminalization
LOS ANGELES — A divided U.S. House committee approved a proposal Wednesday to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, a vote that was alternately described as a momentous turning point in national cannabis policy or a hollow political gesture.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the proposal 24-10 after more than two hours of debate. It would reverse a longstanding federal prohibition by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, while allowing states to set their own rules on pot.
The vote “marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy and is truly a sign that prohibition’s days are numbered,” Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, said in a statement.
However, the bill’s future is uncertain. It wasn’t immediately clear if the proposal would be reviewed by other committees and when, or if, a vote would take place in the full House. The proposal has better chances of passing in the Democratic-controlled chamber than in the Republican-held
The House passed a bill earlier this year to grant legal marijuana businesses access to banking, but it hasn’t advanced in the Senate.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee complained that the proposal had never had a hearing and lacked bipartisan support.
Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the nation has for too long “treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem, instead of a matter of personal choice and public health.”