The House voted 220-204, mostly along party lines, to nationally legalize marijuana and ax the criminal penalties for distribution and possession of the drug.

“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-New York), the chief sponsor of the bill.

“If states are the laboratories of democracy, it is long past time for the federal government to recognize that legalization has been a resounding success and the conflict with federal law has become untenable,” Nadler added.

Eighteen states have already voted to legalize marijuana. The bill would allow the Veterans’ Administration to prescribe medical marijuana to help with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain from injuries. It would also stop federal agencies from denying security clearances for federal workers to use cannabis.

The bill has no certain future in the evenly split Senate, and especially with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire) hesitant to support the bill, it is unlikely to garner enough votes to meet the 60-vote threshold. When a similar bill legalizing marijuana was passed by the House in 2020, it was rejected by the then GOP-controlled Senate.

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