A Congressional committee approved a landmark bill Wednesday that would decriminalise and tax cannabis on the federal level—but it’s unclear whether or when the House will vote on it and whether it could ever pass a Republican-controlled Senate.
Big number: 50. That’s the number of co-sponsors on the bill. Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are backers of the Senate’s version.
Key background: Congress passed the first law effectively criminalising cannabis in 1937, and in 1956 passed another law that set mandatory prison sentences for drug-related offenses which included cannabis. Despite Republicans’ opposition to cannabis, 11 states and the District of Columbia have legalised cannabis for recreational usage, while medical cannabis is legal in 33 states plus D.C. As of last week, the Pew Research Center found that two out of three Americans support legalisation.
Tangent: Joe Biden said during a weekend Las Vegas town hall that not “enough evidence” exists to prove whether cannabis is a “gateway drug.” Research, however, says the majority of people who use cannabis do not “go on to use other, ‘harder’ substances,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. An alternate theory suggests that people who use drugs are predisposed to do so, and that drive is not linked to any specific drug.