The United States House of Representatives just passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level. In a vote of 228-164, the lower house of Congress overwhelmingly agreed to remove marijuana from the schedule 1 classification of narcotics, where it sits alongside cocaine and heroin. 

The bill will now go to the Senate for another vote, where it will have a much tougher time getting passed. The currently Republican-controlled chamber might echo the vote of the House, where nearly all Republicans present voted against the bill. Co-sponsored by Democratic representatives Earl Blumenauer and Barbara Lee, the bill not only hopes to decriminalize marijuana but also expunge the records of nonviolent drug offenders. In addition, it would tax legal marijuana sales to fund rehab clinics and programs that would encourage marijuana entrepreneurship in communities ravaged by the War on Drugs.

“This is an opportunity to strike a blow against the failed war on drugs, that has literally destroyed hundreds of thousands of young Black lives,” Blumenauer said, ahead of the vote.

He added that many states have already decriminalized, legalized medicinal marijuana, or even legalized recreational use. 15 states have legalized marijuana use for adults and 38 have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Two-thirds of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized, according to polls from the Pew Research Center.

“We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana. The American people have already done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 15 million marijuana users in every one of your districts,” he said. “It’s time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

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