Measures in the bill, passed Friday in a House vote, would also expunge pot-related federal convictions, tax cannabis producers and importers and prevent the federal government from denying security clearances over marijuana use. Similar Senate legislation is unlikely to move forward.
Bloomberg: House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana, Expunge Convictions
The House voted Friday to decriminalize marijuana, expunge federal convictions on pot-related charges and impose taxes on cannabis producers and importers. The legislation passed 220-204 with support from most House Democrats and three Republicans. Two Democrats voted against the bill. The House had passed a version of the bill in 2020, but it was never considered in the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to introduce a separate marijuana legalization bill this month. (Dillard, 4/1)
The New York Times: House Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which passed 220-204, is unlikely to secure 60 votes to pass the Senate, despite the backing of the majority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. But supporters of marijuana decriminalization – even some Republicans who voted against the Democratic legislation – said on Friday that the vote was a necessary step toward building consensus on something that can become law. The Democrats’ bill would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, impose an 8 percent tax on cannabis products, allow some convictions on cannabis charges to be expunged and press for sentencing reviews at the federal and state levels. (Weisman, 4/1)
CNN: House Passes Bill To Federally Decriminalize Marijuana
Republicans Tom McClintock of California, Brian Mast and Matt Gaetz, both of Florida, joined the majority of Democrats in supporting the bill, while Democrats Henry Cuellar of Texas and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire voted against. The bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, will prevent federal agencies from denying federal workers security clearances for cannabis use, and will allow the Veterans’ Administration to recommend medical marijuana to veterans living with posttraumatic stress disorder, plus gains revenue by authorizing a sales tax on marijuana sales . (Wilson, 4/1)
In related news about drug decriminalization in Oregon –
AP: Mixed Results For Oregon’s Pioneering Drug Decriminalization
Oregon voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 to decriminalize hard drugs after being told it was a way to establish and fund addiction recovery centers that would offer people aid instead of incarceration. Yet in the first year after the new approach took effect in February 2021, only 1% of people who received citations for possessing controlled substances asked for help via a new hotline. (Selsky, 4/3)
In other news from Capitol Hill –
PBS NewsHour: How This Bill Could Help Fill A Critical Gap In Funding For School Meals
When lawmakers passed the massive $ 1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill last month, they failed to extend, among other programs, a series of pandemic-era school nutrition waivers that offered schools greater flexibility to plan and distribute meals. The waivers covered all students regardless of income, offered better reimbursement rates to cover the rising cost of food and helped dramatically cut the need for bureaucratic paperwork, giving school nutrition workers more time to focus on feeding kids. An estimated 90 percent of US school districts have used these waivers during the pandemic to help feed 30 million children. (Santhanam, 4/1)
KHN: Insulin Copay Cap Passes House Hurdle, But Senate Looks For A Broader Bill
The chances of passing election-year legislation to help people afford insulin – which weeks ago seemed mired in political fighting – are looking brighter as a bipartisan effort to tackle the issue takes root in the Senate. That effort is still in the early stages, but it is moving forward with the support of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who tapped Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) to craft a compromise that members of both parties could accept. Adding pressure to the Senate’s efforts was a vote by the House on March 31 to pass a different bill that caps out-of-pocket insulin costs for many patients with insurance at $ 35 a month. (McAuliff, 4/4)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.