The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Thursday to decriminalize and deschedule marijuana, finishing a two-day markup in which the panel also approved a series of bipartisan measures designed to lower drug prices. Republicans Matt Gaetz of Florida and Tom McClintock of California joined Democrats to advance the marijuana bill by a vote of 26-15. The measure, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., passed the chamber last year but stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate. 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.