The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday that would decriminalize and deschedule marijuana by a vote of 26-15. The move ended a two-day markup period in which the panel also approved a series of bipartisan measures designed to lower drug prices.
The measure, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, passed the chamber last year but stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate, according to rollcall.com. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer proposed a similar measure in July, sparking hopes among advocates that the legislation would finally make it into law.
The bill would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, and implement a federal tax on marijuana products to fund grants for communities hardest hit by the nation’s war on drugs. The bill would also allow most individuals convicted of nonviolent cannabis offenses to expunge their records, with the exception of those considered to be “kingpins,” or those who helped oversee a criminal drug ring.
The outlook for final passage is still uncertain. Schumer and co-sponsors, including Sen. Cory Booker, have not yet formally introduced their draft bill, and Congress is currently consumed by a debate to pass trillions of dollars in spending on infrastructure and social programs, including a first-ever e-cigarette tax.