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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AOC Gets Under Ted Cruz’s Skin With Crack About His Mexican Getaway After He Accuses Her Of Pushing For ‘open borders’

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AOC Gets Under Ted Cruz’s Skin With Crack About His Mexican Getaway After He Accuses Her Of Pushing For ‘open borders’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ted Cruz are at it again on Twitter. This time it’s about immigration policy. After recently traveling to the US-Mexican border to underline the recent rise in immigration, Cruz accused AOC of pushing for a “full open borders” policy.

And of course, AOC got him with some solid zingers.

AOC in turn hit back at Cruz for recently fleeing his home state of Texas during its power grid collapse to vacation in Cancún.

In response to Cruz’s attack, AOC suggested Mexico avoid allowing Cruz in the next time he attempts to vacation there. She also called on him to resign from office for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Ted, this is pretty rich coming from someone who fled their own home (and responsibilities) during an environmental crisis to cross the border and seek refuge in Mexico,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Also you funded cages, expanded cages, and yet you’re complaining about cages. You have no policy, just puff.”

Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of hypocritically attacking the current administration’s detention of migrant children at the border after they supported President Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant parents from their children.

Currently, Democrats like AOC are calling on Biden to impliment more liberal immigration policies.

Republicans have strongly expressed their dislike for the recent rise in migrants which has come as a result of Biden’s reversal of Trump’s most rigid border policies.

AOC is currently a co-sponsor of the Roadmap to Freedom resolution. The resolution calls on the Federal Government to develop and implement a Roadmap to Freedom “in order to overhaul the outdated immigration system in the United States that has gone without significant reform for decades, and to relieve the great human impact an unjust system bears on communities around the country.”

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AOC And Chuck Schumer Announce Funeral Benefits For Covid-19 Deaths

Things That Matter

AOC And Chuck Schumer Announce Funeral Benefits For Covid-19 Deaths

JOHANNES EISELE / AFP via Getty Images

More than 27 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for Covid-19 and more than 468,000 have died. The avoidable death toll has caused emotional and financial pain to hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Chuck Schumer are teaming up to get people benefits to cover unexpected funeral costs.

Rep. AOC and Sen. Chuck Schumer are highlighting funeral benefits to reimburse the families of loved ones who died from Covid-19.

The U.S. government passed a Covid economic relief bill in December to offer some support to the struggling economy. The bill gave some relief to Americans, including $600 relief checks. The previous administration made a show of wanting $2,000 checks before allowing the $600 to go through. The Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan is fulfilling that promise by getting $1,400 checks to Americans to deliver the rest of that $2,000.

Another allocation in the package is $2 billion to reimburse people for some of the funeral costs for Covid victims. According to Bankrate, the average cost of a funeral is around $7,640. This is a tough amount of money for people to come up with without an economic crisis brought on by a pandemic.

Americans can apply for up to $7,000 in reimbursement to cover funeral costs because of Covid.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez understands the financial burden a sudden death in the family can cause. It is something that more than 400,000 families in the U.S. are dealing with as Covid continues to spread and kill thousands of people in the U.S. daily.

“I lost my Dad when I was about 18 years old, and the funeral expenses haunted and followed my family along with many other families in a similar position for years,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said at a news conference announcing the funds. “When you suddenly lose a loved one, you’re talking about an expense of four or five, seven, 10 thousand dollars.”

The benefits are retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic.

AOC is quick to respond on Twitter and confirmed that the funeral benefits are indeed retroactive to January 2020. This offers all families who lost a loved one last year to be eligible for a reimbursement of those funeral costs.

The death toll of Covid is expected to continue to climb as vaccines are rolling out and the race against variants is ongoing. Some new strains of the virus spread faster and there is still work to be done to see if they impact the effectiveness of current vaccines.

The money to cover the reimbursements has been allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two New York politicians teamed up to make this possible with $260 million of those funds going to New Yorkers.

Communities of color are still facing a disproportionate share of the Covid burden.

According to a study by the American Heart Association, access to a hospital plays a big role in why communities of color are disproportionately impacted by Covid. One of the most glaring reasons for the devastation in non-white communities is that hospitals are predominately in white communities.

“Our findings suggest that in order to address disparities in the burden of COVID-19 among vulnerable patient groups, we must focus on structural reasons for the higher rates of viral transmission and hospitalizations for Black and Hispanic patients,” Dr. Fatima Rodriguez, lead author of the study, which was funded by the AHA, said in a statement.

READ: Maluma Invited Fans To A Meet And Greet But Now It’s Being Called A Covid-19 Super Spreader Event

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