U.S. House votes to decriminalize marijuana at federal level
By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, but the legislation is not expected to advance further as long as the Senate remains in Republican hands.
It was the first time either chamber of Congress has voted to end the federal ban on marijuana since the drug was listed as a "controlled substance" in 1970.
Fifteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and over 30 states allow some form of the drug for medicinal purposes. U.S. cannabis sales hit record levels over the Thanksgiving weekend.
But the federal ban on the drug persists, which creates conflicts with state laws and limits cannabis companies' access to banking services and funding.
The Democratic-majority House voted 228-164, largely along party lines, to lift the federal prohibition. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, is an opponent of the change, meaning a decriminalization proposal is unlikely to see Senate action unless Democrats manage to win both Georgia Senate seats and with them Senate control in a Jan. 5 runoff election.
The bill the House passed would allow states to regulate marijuana, Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said in debate.
“This legislation does not legalize cannabis across the country. It stops the federal government from interfering with what states have decided to do," he said.
Republican Representative Debbie Lesko said she found it incredible that Democrats were talking about "legalizing marijuana" instead of focusing on passing more relief from the coronavirus pandemic. "Sometimes I think that the world is turned upside down," she said.
In fact, the House in May passed a mammoth coronavirus aid bill, but it did not advance in the Republican-run Senate. Negotiations are underway on a smaller compromise bill.
The cannabis bill would expunge federal marijuana convictions and impose a 5% tax on cannabis products. The revenue raised would help reinvest in communities most adversely impacted by enforcement of the law, Blumenauer said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.