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Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

  • In addition to decriminalizing marijuana federally, the bill provides for expunging some marijuana convictions and a 5% excise tax on marijuana that would help fund programs for “individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs.”
  • The bill is virtually guaranteed to fail in the Senate, but the House vote — which fell largely along party lines — shows just how mainstream the push to decriminalize marijuana has become in recent years.

Between the lines: A vote on the bill was stalled in the House in October following concerns that a coronavirus relief package was more pressing and that passing a marijuana bill would put moderate Democrats in a vulnerable position before the election.

  • House Republicans did not hold back in attacking Democrats for holding the vote, casting it as a frivolous, dead-end effort and accusing them of prioritizing "cannabis instead of COVID."
  • Progressive activists, meanwhile, have hailed the bill as a step toward justice.

The big picture: Marijuana is legal for recreational adult use in 15 states and legal for medicinal use in 36 states. A 2019 Axios/SurveyMonkey poll found that 63% of Americans support the federal legalization of marijuana.

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the only House Republican to co-sponsor the bill, said in a speech: "If we were measuring the success of the war on drugs … drugs have won. Because the American people do not support the policies of incarceration, limited research, limited choice and, particularly, constraining medical application."
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana advocate, said: “We are not rushing to legalize marijuana — the American people have already done that. We are here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 50 million regular marijuana users in every one of your districts. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 8 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.