December 4, 2020

The House of Representatives has taken a historic vote to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level.

The House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which would federally decriminalize marijuana and create "a process to remove prior convictions," in a 228-164 vote on Friday, CNN reports. The bill also includes a five percent tax on marijuana to fund programs for "individuals most adversely impacted by the war on drugs," Axios reports.

The MORE Act is not seen as having a chance at passing in the Republican-controlled Senate, but the move was still significant in that it was the first time that one of the chambers of Congress voted to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level, Axios noted.

House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in a statement on Friday said this "long overdue legislation would reverse the failed policy of criminalizing marijuana on the federal level and would take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color."

Republican leaders criticized Democrats over the vote on the MORE Act amid negotiations on COVID-19 relief, with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) calling it "tone-deaf" and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sarcastically saying, "The House of Representatives is spending this week on pressing issues like marijuana. You know, serious and important legislation befitting this national crisis."

But Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who co-sponsored the legislation, said Friday, "My Republican colleagues today will make a number of arguments against this bill, but those arguments are overwhelmingly losing with the American people." Brendan Morrow

April 20, 2020

Oil prices just took a massive dive and reached a jaw-dropping new low.

On Monday afternoon, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for May fell more than 300 percent to a record low of about negative $37 a barrel, Fox Business reports. This was the first time ever that WTI crude oil futures traded at a negative price, Bloomberg reports.

CNN reports "the selloff can be attributed in part to market mechanics," as "the May futures contract for West Texas International, the U.S. benchmark, is about to expire." And amid declining demand during the coronavirus crisis, The Associated Press notes that "traders don't want to get stuck owning crude with nowhere to store it," especially as "concerns grew that storage tanks in the United States are near capacity and unable to hold all the unused crude," as The New York Times writes.

"In English," CNN's Julia Chatterley said Monday, "what that means is producers will actually have to pay a buyer in order to take oil off them."

The historic drop throughout the afternoon to mere cents and then less than $0 was stunning to witness, though, with CBS' Kathryn Watson tweeting earlier in the afternoon, "Who would have thought we'd see the day where a roll of toilet paper was about 30 times more valuable in terms of what people will pay than a gallon of oil." Putting things even more in perspective, Axios' Dave Lawler at one point tweeted, "a barrel of oil is now cheaper than a barrel of monkeys." Brendan Morrow

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