WASHINGTON, D.C.—-today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through the Cannabis bill—but left behind the stimulus package to help small business and students returning to school. Low income students are failing classes—distant learning is not working with most public school students.
The House calls for removing cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and erasing certain federal convictions.
It also supports reinvestment in communities adversely impacted by the decades-long “war on drugs”.
The bill is very unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (More) Act was passed in the lower chamber 228 to 164 on Friday afternoon, with five Republicans – and one independent – supporting the measure.
To become law, the bill needs to pass the Senate and be signed by the president. If that happens, it could help bridge a major disconnect between national and state drug policy in the US.
Small businesses continue to suffer due to the first and second lockdowns. The PPP was a big success said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin said that the success met and exceeded expectations– with government data indicating the forgivable loan program supported more than 51 million jobs, the sustained economic downturn and its resulting effect on small businesses has stretched far beyond anyone’s expectations, leaving many businesses wondering what else they can do to survive.
Some business owners have hoped to receive another round of PPP. But Speaker Pelosi continues to hold out for billions to support badly managed blue states preventing a deal between both sides of the spectrum. The House will return next week for two full weeks before they leave for Christmas vacations. and with lawmakers stuck in a months’ long stalemate, there may be no relief before the end of 2020.
Cannabis is still prohibited by the 1970 federal drug policy known as the Controlled Substances Act and classed as a Schedule I narcotic – defined as having no medical value and a high potential for abuse – but states have made their own laws relating to the drug.
One in three Americans currently live in states where cannabis is legal for adult use, despite the federal prohibition.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have passed ballot measures or initiatives that allow the recreational use of cannabis by anyone over the age of 21.
In addition, 38 states have passed measures that allow its use for medicinal purposes.
Last month, voters in three states – Arizona, Montana and New Jersey – overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to legalise recreational use, with voters in Mississippi supporting its medicinal use. South Dakota, a traditionally conservative state, made history when voters there simultaneously backed initiatives for the medicinal and recreational use of the drug.
Support for federal cannabis legalisation is now at an all-time high, with a Gallup poll last month showing more than two-thirds of American adults support it.
Several lawmakers took to the House floor ahead of the vote, arguing the bill had less to do with legalising marijuana and more to do with how the enforcement of cannabis prohibition has hurt communities of colour, leaving behind “a legacy of racial and ethnic injustices”.
Source: BBC contributed to this article.