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US House passes reform bill to decriminalize marijuana

US Congress has passed a sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

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The 116th US Congress passed a reform legislation to decriminalize marijuana and expunge non-violent marijuana-related convictions and prosecution.

The bill, however, moves to legislate H.R. 3884, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, under a closed rule.

According to a statement made by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, the MORE Act is a commonsense bill that will make a tangible difference in the lives of millions of Americans, as it is tied around ideals of racial, economic, and moral justice.

READ: Coca Cola’s interest in cannabis presents export opportunities for Nigeria

However, the bill still has to pass through the US Senate, but it is likely that the Senate would pass it, given the uncertainties around it and owing to the non-inclusion of a cost estimate in the committee report, according to Clause 3(d) of rule XIII.

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However, US representative for the eastern part of Bronx in New York, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, tweeted that 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization.

READ: PIB and Electoral Amendment Bill pass second reading in House of Reps

This year, South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey joined 11 other states in legalizing it. Yet, the federal government still classifies pot as a dangerous drug. The Senate must listen to the American people and vote on this bill.

Why this matters

The bill, if finally passed by the senate would decriminalize cannabis, and also provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the war on drugs, through the expungement of certain cannabis offenses and for other purposes.

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Thus, leading to the delisting of marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge some marijuana convictions for nonviolent criminals.

READ: Update: FEC approves 2020 Finance bill as FG denies plans to increase taxes

The bill would also ban the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions.

What they are saying

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, representing parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn said:

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There is no reason for cannabis to be classified as a federally scheduled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The MORE Act deschedules cannabis, allowing states to establish their own marijuana regulations and providing medical marijuana access to veterans in need.”

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“The MORE Act is a common-sense bill that will make a tangible, real difference in the lives of millions of Americans. I’m proud of this bill centered around ideals of racial, economic, and moral justice.”

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“I’m so proud that the MORE Act passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 228 to 164. I introduced this bill to provide restorative justice, modernize America’s cannabis laws, and deliver meaningful investments to America’s communities & small businesses.”

READ: Minimum wage earners should be exempted from paying income tax – FG

Co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Earl Blumenauer, representing Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District, while speaking at Capitol Hill during the House session on Friday said:

We are here because we have failed three generations of Black and Brown young people, whose lives can be ruined or lost, by selective enforcement of these laws.

This Legislation will end that disaster. It’s time for the Congress to step up and do its part”

READ: #EndSARS: Nothing wrong with social media bill – Ali Ndume

What you should know

  • Recreational marijuana is currently legal in 15 states and Washington DC, while Medical marijuana is legal in 34 states of the 50 States of the USA.
  • The MORE Act has seen a lot of criticisms by people who believe the bill is an unserious bill, as there is zero interest in moving this bill in the Senate and zero interest in supporting it in either the current administration or the incoming one.
  • Earlier this week, Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, criticized the House for passing the cannabis bill, instead of focusing on a COVID-19 stimulus bill that both parties reportedly have agreed upon.

READ: Lagos 2021 Appropriation Bill scales through second reading

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Omokolade Ajayi is a graduate of Economics, and a certificate holder of the CFA Institute’s Investment Foundation Program. He is a business analyst, and equity market researcher, with wealth of experience as a retail investor. He is a business owner and a stern advocate of Financial literacy, who believes in the huge economic prospect of the Nigerian Payment channels and Fintech space.

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President Biden directs international air travelers must quarantine upon arrival

President Joe Biden has directed international air travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the United States.

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Joe Biden gains additional 4.6 million Twitter followers in less than 12 hours

The United States President Joe Biden has issued an executive order on Thursday that makes it mandatory for international air travellers to quarantine upon arrival in the US.

Similarly, the executive order also includes a directive that all interstate travellers in the US will be expected to wear a face mask. This travel order applies to airports and planes, trains, ferries, intercity buses and public transportation, but grants them the ability to issue exemptions.

READ: Here is reason Turkish Airlines was allowed to land in Abuja 

What the US President is saying in the executive order

According to a report from Reuters, President Biden’s order says, ‘‘To the extent, feasible air travellers must comply with applicable U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines concerning international travel ‘including recommended periods of self-quarantine.

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However, the executive order does not explain how it will be enforced as the implementation still remains quite hazy.

READ: A Joe Biden presidency and its impact on Nigeria’s oil

The order also directs US agencies to engage with Canada and Mexico on public health protocols for land ports of entry including implementing CDC guidelines. Almost all non-essential travel at US land borders with Canada and Mexico has been suspended till February 21.

The CDC recommends a 7-day quarantine for people arriving in the United States from nearly all countries.

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READ: Biden reverses US immigration ban on Nigeria, others

Biden is directing agencies to reconsider international contact tracing requirements for U.S.-bound passengers, which was abandoned by the Trump White House, as well as the possibility of follow-up Covid-19 testing for travellers after they arrive in the United States.

In addition, the US President has also directed that all travellers including US citizens, will be required to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test before entering the country from abroad in an order that underscores the CDC policy announced last week.

READ: Air travellers across Nigerian Airports hit 8.5 million in 6-month

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What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Trump administration had resisted calls for the enforcement of a mask-wearing requirement.
  • The Biden administration has also announced that it would reimpose coronavirus-related ban on most non-U.S. citizens arriving from European Union, Brazil, the United Kingdom.
  • This follows the lifting of the restrictions by former US President, Donald Trump through an executive order on Monday.

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Joe Biden sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States

The whole world watched in awe as Joe Biden was sworn in as the new President of the United States.

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Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

The 78-year-old Democrat and former Vice president to Barack Obama is being sworn in after emerging the winner of last year’s Presidential elections.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, becoming the first woman and the first black and Asian-American person elevated to serve in a role a heartbeat from the presidency.

The inauguration took place at the US Capitol, the same building that was stormed on January 6, by Donald Trump’s violent supporters.

Trump who for months refused to conceded to Biden’s victory at the polls left the White House for the final time hours earlier and flew to Florida after making it clear weeks ago that he will not be attending the inauguration.

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Trump’s Vice, Mike Pence attended the ceremony, as he skipped Trump’s farewell military salute event at Andrews base.

The ceremony includes musical performances by Lady Gaga – who sang the national anthem – as well as Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

Former Presidents; Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were all present at the inuaguration

What you should know

  • At 78, Biden is the oldest president ever to take the oath of office.
  • In his speech, Biden swore to defend the constitution and the country “against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.
  • History was made as Kamala Harris became America’s first female, first Black and first Asian American vice-president.
  • Donald Trump skipped the ceremony, becoming the first president not to attend his successor’s inauguration since 1869.

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Joe Biden to return United States to WHO on first day as President

In-coming US President, Joe Biden has resolved to immediately return the country back to the WHO after his inauguration.

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What would a Joe Biden Presidency mean for Nigeria?

The US President-elect Joe Biden plans to immediately return back the country to the World Health Organization (WHO) on the first day after his inauguration as he intends to make a sweeping review of the policies of outgoing President, Donald Trump.

This is as he intends to send top US medical expert Anthony Fauci to speak to the group in a strong rejection of Donald Trump’s snubs and criticisms during the coronavirus pandemic.

This disclosure is contained in a fact sheet released by President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team.

READ: Joe Biden gains additional 4.6 million Twitter followers in less than 12 hours

According to a report by Bloomberg, the incoming administration plans to take part in the WHO executive board meeting this week, with Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, heading the delegation and speaking.

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The statement says that as soon as the United States resumes its engagement with the WHO, the new administration will work with the body to strengthen and reform the UN health agency.

READ: Banking giant, Deutsch Bank to cut ties with President Trump

What this means

  • With these announced plans, the Joe Biden administration is showing that it intends to set a new science-based tone in seeking to reverse Donald Trump’s dismissal of strategies to mitigate the virus as well as seek international cooperation in addressing the pandemic.
  • It also further reinforces the incoming President’s earlier criticism of Trump’s handling of the pandemic especially in the early days rather than laying blames.

READ: U.S dollar stays firm, Joe Biden to unveil COVID-19 support programs

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that President Donald Trump in May 2020, announced that the US would exit the WHO because of what he said was its undue deference to China and failure to provide accurate information about the coronavirus.
  • He often referred to the UN health agency as being controlled by China and criticized their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The US had been the WHO’s largest contributor, providing $400 million to $500 million in mandatory and voluntary contributions annually, with Trump’s last year decision drawing sharp criticism in Congress, as well as from allies in Europe.

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