FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill to legalize marijuana nationwide.
Under the measure, cannabis would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act, making it legal.
In addition, those convicted of violating federal cannabis laws would have their cases expunged.
David Sloane of Fort Worth has been a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws since the 1980s. “I’m encouraged by all the baby steps were seeing.”
Sloane said the bill would right a wrong.
“All these people who have been arrested all this time over all these years disproportionately has affected not only people of color but people of lower socioeconomic status,” said Sloane.
The bill would also allow doctors at the Veterans Administration to prescribe medical marijuana.
Melissa Caldwell-Engle, a licensed professional counselor, though said she is concerned addiction to marijuana could rise among some people. “I know clinically if you don’t deal with the need for why that person is having to use that, it can grow and cause problems for us systemically, as a community, as a culture.”
She said there needs to be a focus on treatment. “Better mental health and addiction care to understand and recognize that piece. That to me, I think is critical.”
In a recent survey, the Pew Research Center found 67% of Americans say marijuana use should be legal, while 32% oppose legalization, which has dropped from 52% in 2010.
Sloane said the federal bill won’t have any impact on Texas marijuana laws, but that attitudes are changing. “We’re seeing a decline in the severity of punishment and the zeal to prosecute these cases.”
The bill will now go to the full House for a vote, then to the Senate.
If passed, the bill would head to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.