Historic legislation that would comprehensively put an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis and roll back the damages done by the failed “War on Drugs” will be put to a vote in the U.S. House when it returns from its August recess.
The vote will hit the floor on the week of September 21, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
In November, the House Judiciary passed HR 3884—the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act or MORE Act – on a bipartisan vote, but it has since been waiting for action by the full House.
The MORE Act, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would lead to the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, where it is currently scheduled as a Class 1 controlled substance. It would drive the final nail into the coffin of prohibition on a national level and allowing states to move forward with their own policies regulating the commerce and consumption of the plant.
Likewise, banks would have the ability to offer credit cards and checking accounts to legal cannabis businesses, and the study of any potential medicinal benefits of the plant would be easier to undertake.
The act also requires federal courts to expunge past cannabis convictions and authorizes the provision of resources, through a tax on cannabis products, toward addressing the needs of communities who have suffered serious negative impacts from prohibition enforcement, especially those communities of color that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.
The announcement by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., was welcomed by advocates for the legalization of cannabis.
“After many months of hard work and collaboration, we finally have a chance to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against people of color, especially Black men,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
“As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice,” Rep. Blumenauer added.
The MORE Act was initially opposed by Republicans, including many who supported a separate bipartisan cannabis reform bill called the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
However, the MORE Act goes much further than the STATES Act, which lacked the social equity elements and formal removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
“It’s the first-ever comprehensive m*****na legalization bill to ever be considered for a full House floor vote,” said Queen Adesuyi, national affairs policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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 her***.
While five Senate Republicans have co-sponsored the STATES Act, none have added their names to the More Act.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was an original co-sponsor of the More Act and has put forward his own Marijuana Justice Act.
“This war on pot has not been a war on pot,” Booker said last year. “It has been a war on Black people and brown people and low income people. This is not about legalization of marij*****. That’s too simplistic. This is about restorative justice. It’s about equal justice under the law.”
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