The US House of Representatives has passed legislation to legalise weed.
The bill was passed by a vote of 220 to 204 on Friday (1 April) – and this is no April Fools' prank. However, it doesn't mean marijuana is now legal in the States, either.
The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will need to clear 60 votes, which will be no mean feat.
A House bill to legalise weed was previously passed in December 2020, but it didn't make it past the Senate.
The most recent bill passed almost entirely along party lines, with only three Republicans voting in favour of the bill and two Democrats voting against it.
To pass the Senate and advance to a final vote, the bill would need every Democrat member and 10 Republicans to vote in favour.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would decriminalise possession, distribution and manufacture of cannabis, as well as clearing previous convictions from people's records and imposing a tax on sales.
The tax would begin at five percent and climb to eight percent, with the money used to fund the likes of substance-use treatment, job training and youth recreation schemes.
Addressing the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "Tragically, the communities most harmed by criminalisation are benefiting the least from legal cannabis marketplaces, as prior cannabis convictions are barring too many of them from entering the industry.
"Meanwhile, more than 600,000 Americans are still arrested each year on cannabis charges, threatening to perpetuate this vicious cycle. With the MORE Act, which the Democratic House proudly passed last Congress, we take strong actions to correct these injustices.
"This landmark legislation is one of the most important criminal justice reform bills in recent history – delivering justice for those harmed by the brutal, unfair consequences of criminalisation, opening the doors of opportunity for all to participate in this rapidly growing industry and decriminalising cannabis at the federal level so we do not repeat the grave mistakes of our past."
More than two-thirds of the US now permits the medical use of marijuana on a state level, and around half of them allow non-medical use.
"Now it is time for the federal government to follow suit," Pelosi concluded.
However, Republicans have raised concerns about the mind-altering impact of the drugs and argued there were much greater priorities than legalising weed at the moment.
According to The Hill, Jim Jordan, representative for Ohio's fourth district, said: "Record crime, record inflation, record gas prices, record number of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, and what are Democrats doing today? Legalising drugs.
"Legalising drugs and using American tax dollars to kick start and prop up the marijuana industry. Wow."
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