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House Votes to Decriminalize Cannabis

During the debate on Friday, House Republicans raised concerns that the bill would expose more children to cannabis and that it ignored mental health issues in adult users. Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, mocked a Democratic colleague, Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee, for mistaking today’s potent strains with those of his youth.

“He’s thinking pot is a drug where people get goofy and eat Cheetos,” Mr. Biggs said of Mr. Cohen.

But they generally skirted the issue, which is broadly popular in both parties, accusing Democrats of failing to address more pressing topics.

“The left will not let the Democrats do what needs to be done with the inflation problem, the energy problem, the illegal immigration problem on the southern border,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee. “So what do they do? They legalize drugs. Wow.”

That opposition belied the issue’s popularity with Democratic and Republican voters. Some deeply Republican states like Oklahoma have become marijuana boom states. Kansas is the latest state on the verge of legalizing cannabis for medical use.

Federal law is far out of step.

“This is an issue of individual freedom and basic fairness that clearly transcends party lines,” Mr. Schumer, Mr. Wyden and Mr. Booker wrote in a letter to fellow senators in February. “However, one major hurdle continues to stand in the way of states’ ability to make their own decisions about cannabis — the continued prohibition of marijuana at the federal level.”

Ms. Mace said the Democrats with whom she had been negotiating needed to pass their version of a legalization bill before getting serious about talks on a bipartisan bill, with buy-in from the Senate. She has used the issue to distinguish herself from her Republican primary opponent, Katie Arrington, whom President Donald J. Trump has endorsed.

“I hope that I can be forgiven for voting against it,” Ms. Mace said on Friday, before casting her vote against the Democrats’ bill. “Because I want to continue. I want to work on this issue, but we have to work on it together.”

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