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The House of Representatives voted Friday to federally legalize marijuana with a vote of 220-204, mostly along party lines, sending the legislation to the Senate.
Three Republicans – Reps. Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast and Tom McClintock – voted alongside the Democratic majority, while two Democrats voted no with the GOP.
It marked the second time the Democrat-led House passed a bill to decriminalize pot, the first happening in December 2020.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act decriminalizes possession, distribution and manufacture of cannabis – and no longer classifies it as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
Republicans took to the House floor to call the bill half-baked.
‘It’s been obvious for years that at some point marijuana was going to me formally legalized. What’s deeply and truly disturbing, however, about this bill is its failure to address the clear consequences of legalization,’ warned Rep. Cliff Bentz, an Oregon Republican, who was leading the debate.
Bentz drew attention to the war in Ukraine, the southern border crisis, high gas prices and rampant inflation.
‘But the main priority for the Democrats isn’t Ukraine, skyrocketing gasoline prices, 8 per cent inflation or the border crisis. No, instead it’s marijuana,’ Bentz said.
The House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement act Friday with a vote of 220-204, mostly along party lines.
A map of the United States showing the legality of marijuana by state
All but two Democrats came out in favor of the bill.
Those voting against included New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, who heralds from a swing district, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, who didn’t win his Democratic primary outright, and is headed to a run-off with progressive darling Jessica Cisneros.
President Joe Biden has also expressed reluctance when asked if he supported marijuana legalization.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki wouldn’t answer the question directly when asked Friday if Biden supported this bill.
‘Well, first, let me say that the president said during the campaign our current marijuana laws are not working. He agrees that we need to rethink our approach, including to address the racial disparities and systemic inequities in our criminal justice system, broaden research on the effects of marijuana and support the safe use of marijuana for medical purposes,’ Psaki answered. ‘
‘We look forward to working with Congress to achieve our shared goals,’ she continued. ‘And we’ll continue having discussions with them about this objective.’
Those in the cannabis industry heralded the news.
‘We are very encouraged by the passing of the MORE act in the House today. We continue to believe the decriminalization of cannabis is long overdue. We hope the Senate will also see that legalization of cannabis will go a long way to righting the many wrongs that have happened for many years in our country while providing all Americans the opportunity to use cannabis medically or recreationally,’ said Peter Gallagher, the CEO of INSA, a leading east coast vertically integrated cannabis company.
On Friday in advance of the bill’s passage, lawmakers voted on three amendments and also a Republican motion to recommit, which would add fentanyl to the list of Schedule I drugs and send the bill back to committee.
The GOP effort failed.
During his time on the floor, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin heckled his Republican colleagues over statements made by GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn.
‘I concede our party is not for the kind of cocaine-fueled orgies that a freshman Republican representative bragged about this week,’ the Maryland Democrat said. ‘But we do understand that their marijuana prohibition laws don’t work for our people.’
Cawthorn said in an interview with Warrior Poet Society that Washington, D.C. is like Netflix’s House of Cards in that he’s witnessed ‘sexual perversion’ and cocaine use.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin heckled his Republican colleagues over statements made by GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn as he argued for the federal legalization of marijuana on the House floor Friday
Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn is under fire for saying that Washington, D.C. is like Netflix’s House of Cards in that he’s witnessed ‘sexual perversion’ and cocaine use
‘The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington … being kind of a young guy in Washington where the average age is probably 60 or 70, I look at all these people – a lot of them who I’ve looked up to throughout my life … then all of a sudden you get invited to like, “well hey we’re going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come,” like, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they’re asking you to come to an orgy,’ the North Carolina Republican said.
‘There’s some of the people that are leading the movement to try and remove addiction in our country and then you watch them doing, you know, a key bump of cocaine in front of you and it’s like wow, this is wild,’ Cawthorn added.
Cawthorn reportedly walked back the comments when he conversed with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – who received a number of complaints from Congressional Republicans.
However, former President Donald Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone jumped into the conversation and said Cawthorn didn’t actually play take-backsies.
Raskin brought up the controversy as he argued in favor of an amendment to the bill that dealth with federal government security clearances.
The Maryland Democrat noted that ‘ten of millions’ of people are being cut off from federal employment over smoking pot.
‘That is plainly stupid wrong and unfair,’ Raskin said.
Raskin’s amendment failed.
Cawthorn wasn’t on hand for the votes, having Rep. Matt Gaetz – who’s under investigation for sex trafficking – vote for him by proxy.