(TMU) — A bill that could see marijuana comprehensively legalized on a federal level has been scheduled for a vote on Wednesday or shortly thereafter, marking the first-ever vote to put an end to federal cannabis prohibition.
The legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and sponsored by Rep. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as S.2227, enjoys bipartisan support and would lead to the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, ending prohibition on a federal level and allowing states to move forward with their own policies regulating the commerce and consumption of the plant.
The text of HR3884 lays out the purpose of the proposed law, which would be to “decriminalize and de-schedule cannabis, to provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, to provide for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”
Cannabis legal reform advocates have hailed the scheduled vote as a key step toward advancing justice for those affected by the failed “War on Drugs,” which has for decades fueled over-policing and mass incarceration, ripping apart the social fabric for poor communities and people of color across the United States.
In a blog post, Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), wrote:
“This has never happened in the history of our country and it is thanks to all the time and effort folks have put in for DECADES. The MORE Act isn’t just some half measure either. It contains many of the important reforms we have always wanted to see at the federal level.
Not only will it remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act entirely, but it will also require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana-related convictions, provide grants and funding to communities most harmed by our failed war on cannabis consumers, and finally allow physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration to recommend medical cannabis to veterans.”
The removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic would mean that the plant would no longer be defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” in league with LSD and heroin.
The act also includes a number of provisions that would seek to undo the historical damage wrought by the failed “War on Drugs,” including injecting grants and funding into those communities which faced the most damage from the prohibitionist campaign.
States would also be incentivized to expunge the criminal records of low-level cannabis offenders, removing a barrier that often bars access to employment and housing. The legislation would also provide for re-sentencing and block federal agencies from denying public benefits and security clearances over past cannabis convictions, while immigrants would no longer be denied citizenship over marijuana.
The Small Business Administration would also support entrepreneurs and businesses who are trying to gain a foothold in the fast-emerging and profitable legal cannabis industry.
In a press release, Rep. Nadler called on Congress to pass the bill. He said:
“Our marijuana laws disproportionately harm individuals and communities of color, leading to convictions that damage job prospects, access to housing, and the ability to vote.
Recognizing this, many states have legalized marijuana. It’s now time for us to remove the criminal prohibitions against marijuana at the federal level. That’s why I introduced the MORE Act, legislation which would assist communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of these laws.”
For too long, our marijuana laws have disproportionately harmed individuals and communities of color. As more states legalize marijuana, it is time for Congress to decriminalize it.
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) November 18, 2019
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