Things That Matter

Latino Lawmakers Help Make History As The House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana Across The Country

With much of the nation’s attention focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s refusal to concede an election he lost, recent news of a vote in the House of Representatives may have slipped by unnoticed. But it shouldn’t.

The House just made history as it voted to decriminalize cannabis, a historic symbolic moment marking Congress’ very late to the party move toward embracing the views held by a large majority of Americans.

The bill was spearheaded by House Democrats and the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus voted in favor of the bill, helping ensure its passage. Although it’s largely seen as a symbolic victory for marijuana rights advocates – since the Senate isn’t likely to act: Senate Republicans have indicated there’s no appetite to pass the measure.

The House of Representatives made history by passing a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

For the first time in history, a bill decriminalizing marijuana has passed the lower chamber of congress and although it stands zero chance of becoming law, it’s a major milestone towards marijuana legalization.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act passed the house with 228 in favor and 164 opposed, with only five Republicans voting in favor of the measure and six Democrats voting against it, according to ABC News.

From here, the bill will be sent to the Senate, where the measure will be reviewed for a second time. It’s unlikely that the Republican-led Senate will approve the bill, but seeing it move forward could mean a noticeably positive impact on the health of people across the country and on the U.S. at a societal level.

“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,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a statement after the vote, according to CNN. “That’s why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act today.”

The bill would importantly help those who have been convicted in the past of non-violent marijuana offenses.

The MORE Act aims to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, which would finally allow states to regulate it as they see fit, which many states are already doing.

Perhaps most importantly, it would also expunge past convictions for marijuana possession and require resentencing for those in prison for pot convictions. The bill also authorizes a federal tax on marijuana sales that would begin at 5 percent, funds which advocates say would be used to reinvest in communities that have suffered from the war on drugs.

The bill would also ban government agencies from using marijuana as a reason to deny people federally subsidized housing or to adversely impact their immigration status.

American’s opinions on marijuana use has changed dramatically in a short time and federal law needs to catch up.

Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

Less than a decade ago, recreational marijuana was illegal in all 50 states. Now, as of December 2020, 15 states allow recreational use of marijuana (with Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voting to allow it in 2020) in addition to the 38 states that allow medical marijuana.

That’s a rapid shift. And one that the federal government hasn’t kept up with. As voters across the country embrace legal weed, it’s remained completely illegal at the federal level, treated as the same category as cocaine and heroine.

Americans support marijuana legalization by a two-to-one margin, according to polls, numbers that have almost completely flipped in the past two decades. That support includes majorities of Republicans and vast majorities of Democrats and independents.

“We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana. The American people have already done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 15 million marijuana users in every one of your districts,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and one of the bill’s chief architects, during House floor debate Friday morning before the vote. “It’s time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She Faced Close Encounter And Feared For Her Life

aoc / Instagram

We are getting a better look into what happened at the U.S. Capitol when Trump supporters stormed the building. There have been stories of politicians with military history saving lives and horrific revelations. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently let the world know that she had a moment when she feared for her life.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaking out after the violent day at the Capitol building.

In an hour-long Instagram Live video, Rep. AOC spoke frankly about what happened while far-right Trump supporters stormed the building. The unruly mob turned a usually ceremonious and boring function of Congress, certifying the electoral votes, into one of the darkest days for our democracy. For Rep. AOC, it was almost the end of her life.

“As for myself, I had a pretty traumatizing event happen to me. I do not know if I can even disclose the full details of that event due to security concerns,” she said in her Instagram Live while recounting the insurrection of Jan. 6. “I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die and you have all of those thoughts where, you know, at the end of your life, and all of these thoughts come rushing to you. That’s what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday. I did not think, I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive. Not just in a general sense but also in a very, very specific sense.”

Rep. AOC also used her Instagram Live to talk about the traitorous acts she witnessed.

At the beginning of the video, Rep. AOC highlights the Republicans who helped create the dangerous insurrection. She did not hold back on naming some of the people she holds responsible for inciting the mob through rhetoric and political ambition.

“Wednesday, as you know, the president, frankly assisted by members of Congress, incited an attack on the United States Capitol,” Rep. AOC says in the video. “This is known as an act of insurrection, an act of sedition. Frankly, he is a traitor to our country, a traitor to the United States and I don’t think there’s another way you can put it. I don’t think there’s another way to put, there’s no other way to put it.”

She continued adding: “If you are Senator Ted Cruz or Senator Josh Hawley, and frankly if you are many members of Congress, you cast that vote not out of genuine belief, but you cast it out of political ambition. That is what they did. They incited an attack on the Capitol and many many many members of Congress were almost murdered. Many Congressional staffers were almost killed. Many children, children of members of Congress, were there. Children.”

Rep. AOC is not the only member of Congress sounding the alarm about colleagues making this happen.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., came forward to tell people about how she saw Republican members of Congress allegedly working with the rioters.

“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,” Rep. Sherrill said during a live webcast Tuesday. “And so not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff reported her own terrifying moment.

Sarah Groh told Boston Globe that she and her husband were in Rep. Pressley’s office and barricaded the door with furniture. That was when she tried to use the panic buttons for help, which she had done before. Despite never changing offices, Groh said that all of the panic buttons were gone.

READ: Ted Cruz Among Senators Facing Backlash And Calls To Resign After Mob Breaches US Capitol

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Rep. AOC Took Up For A Medic Who Turned To OnlyFans For Extra Cash Because America Needs To Increase Wages

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Rep. AOC Took Up For A Medic Who Turned To OnlyFans For Extra Cash Because America Needs To Increase Wages

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took up for a a New York medic that was shamed by the New York Post. The media outlet publicly identified a New York medic that has had to turn to OnlyFans to make enough money to make ends meet.

The New York Post is facing backlash for identifying a medic on OnlyFans.

According to the article, a 23-year-old medic had to turn to posting on OnlyFans to makes ends meet. She does say that the issue of not being paid enough goes beyond the pandemic. The medic tells the NYPost that the need to start an OnlyFans page is more indicative of an economy that doesn’t pay people enough to live.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t affect how I treat people. What I do in my free time is my business,” she told NYPost. “It has no effect on how I care for my patients. I know when I’m working, I’m a paramedic. I think I’m pretty good at my job.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez swooped in and called out the NYPost over their article.

According to Salary.com, the median salary for a paramedic in the U.S. is about $52,000 in New York. For reference, the median rental price of a one-bedroom apartment in New York is a little more than $2,600 a month, or about $31,000 a year.

Rep. AOC is using the moment to highlight the dire need to increase wages to match the ever-increasing inflation. The federal minimum wage has been stagnant for decades, with increases that are so minimal that the minimum wage today is worth less than the minimum wage of 1981.

It is also serving as a reminder of the need to legalize sex work as legitimate work.

Sex work is work and it is a movement that is aiming to legalize sex workers. The argument is that by legalizing sex work you are able to protect sex workers and create a safer industry.

In 2019, the Human Rights Watch came forward and endorsed decriminalizing sex work. The HRW argues that the criminalization of sex work has created an environment of abuse and exploitation to the detriment of sex workers. The stigma of being a sex worker, according to HRW research, leaves them open to violent attacks like murder, rape, and assault because they won’t seek police help.

“Criminalizing adult, voluntary, and consensual sex – including the commercial exchange of sexual services – is incompatible with the human right to personal autonomy and privacy,” reads the HRW website. “In short – a government should not be telling consenting adults who they can have sexual relations with and on what terms.”

Fellow members of Congress are praising Rep. AOC for her quick callout.

Rep. AOC has been defending workers’ rights since being elected to Congress and she isn’t slowing down. The New York politician won her reelection decisively showing that her way of pushing the nation forward is resonating in her district.

READ: After Haters Came For The Harry Styles Vogue Cover, AOC Is Rushing To His Defense

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