The United States House of Representatives voted for the first time this Friday in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, in what is a great step for bring federal laws in line with those of various states and countries that have already released the use of this substance.
The lower house, under Democratic control, easily passed this bill by 228 votes to 164. However, his chances are much less in the Senate, which is dominated by Republicans.
The new rule aims to remove marijuana from the List of Controlled Substances, which it included it along with heroin or cocaine as a dangerous narcotic and stipulated harsh penalties.
The inclusion of cannabis sativa in this list it left the federal government out of the line adopted by several states that already legalized marijuana for medical use and some, like Colorado, who chose to completely release it and regulate its recreational use.
This federal bill is the culmination of five decades of arguing by its advocates to convince the federal government to recognize the relatively low harm that cannabis use causes compared to other drugsas well as the failure to repress its commercialization while hundreds of thousands of people were sent to prison for minor offenses.
If the law is finally applied, the criminal records of many people arrested for marijuana use would end up expunged and the sentences of those currently serving sentences for federal cannabis-related offenses could be revised.
It would also authorize states to establish their own laws and launch a federal regulation and appraisal of the sector, as already happens with alcohol.
“For too much time, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem rather than as a matter of personal choice and public health ”, said Democratic lawmaker Jerry Nadler, who wrote the bill.
“The growing recognition in the states shows that the status quo on this matter is unacceptable”he added.