marijuana

Somewhere in California, Nevada and beyond, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson, J.R. Smith and others are smiling — they may even enjoy a puff and pass it around.

The House of Representatives on Friday approved legislation that would decriminalize smoking and possession of marijuana, a bill that Congress members said aims to address the devastating injustices caused by the war on drugs.

It’s the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on federal marijuana decriminalization, though Capitol Hill watchers opine that it has little chance of passing the Republican-led Senate.

The bill legalizes the drug’s distribution by authorizing a 5 percent sales tax on marijuana products to invest in services such as job training, legal aid, and substance abuse treatment.

According to the bill, which passed mostly along party lines, the tax revenue would also provide funds for small business loans and allow access to marijuana licensing and employment for economically disadvantaged individuals.

Five Republicans and 222 Democrats supported the measure, while 158 members of the GOP and six Democrats opposed the bill.

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been upended as a result of convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the racial disparities in conviction rates for those offenses are as shocking as they are unjust,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement after the vote. “That’s why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act today.”

Hip-hop superstar and Long Beach, Calif., native Snoop Dogg has long championed the legalization of marijuana, while NBA star J.R. Smith trended with the news of the legislation. Many on Twitter noted the basketball player’s love of marijuana is well-documented.

And, for boxing legend Mike Tyson, a tweet of smiling emojis captured his thoughts.

“I smoked every day, during and while training for the fight,” Tyson said following his comeback bout against Roy Jones Jr. in Las Vegas last weekend. “I never stopped smoking.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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