In a historic move, the House voted on Friday to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level—but the bill likely won’t advance to the Senate as Republicans have been unwilling to take up the issue. The House vote was largely split along party lines, with five Republicans and the majority of Democrats voting yes on the decriminalization bill. “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). “Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.”
In addition to decriminalizing marijuana, the bill allows for a federal tax on the product that would be used for job training, legal, and other services for people affected by the war on drugs. The bill would also remove federal marijuana convictions from individuals’ records going back to the 1970s. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia already have laws on the books that allow for recreational marijuana use, and 36 states plus D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use. “We need to catch up with the rest of the American people,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said Friday.