Following a 24 to 10 vote, the House Judiciary Committee will be introducing a cannabis bill that would remove the plant from the Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. If the bill makes its way through both the house and the senate, it will federally decriminalize cannabis nation-wide.
The bill is likely to win approval in a democrat-controlled house, but it will likely face an uphill battle in the republican-controlled senate. Mitch McConnell, the current majority leader in the Senate, is a staunch anti-cannabis politician with a history of speaking out against legalization in the United States.
How Would The New Bill Federally Decriminalize Cannabis?
The new legislation would allow states to make their own decisions regarding the legalization of cannabis and will require a five percent federal tax on all cannabis products. The funds from this tax would go toward job training and legal assistance for those who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
As it currently stands, arrests relating to cannabis possession and distribution constitute over half of all arrests made in the United States, numbering just under 900,000 per year. This costs the country billions of dollars annually. The legal costs for those who suffer such arrests can range from a few thousand to over $20,000, depending on the charge. Such charges also, on average, reduce the rate of wage growth for impacted individuals by around 30 percent over their lifetime.
For the states where legalization has taken place, the financial benefits have already spoken for themselves. Not only do individuals in such states no longer face criminal charges for consumption and possession of cannabis, meaning lowered enforcement costs, they also reap the benefits of tax revenue. Nationwide, the tax revenues resulting from a cannabis bill such as the one currently in motion could potentially reach over $130 billion. Factor in the money saved from reduced law enforcement and incarceration costs, and the sky’s the limit.
All that can be done now is to wait and see if Mitch McConnell is going to make the decision to kill the cannabis bill and cost our country over $100 billion per year in order to cater to the outdated, Reefer Madness-fueled whims of he and his fellow conservative congressman.