The House of representatives will likely vote on marijuana decriminalization bill following the November election. Plans to vote on the MORE ACT during the September 2020 period were mentioned by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. However, it appears that coronavirus relief efforts have taken the focus away for the time being, probably justifiably for the immediate future.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, also known as MORE, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow states to pass their own laws surrounding weed, though 11 states and Washington have already begun to do so.
In addition to decriminalizing cannabis, the bill also would establish a fund for people impacted by drugs, impose a 5% tax on legal marijuana sales, and create a process to address those suffering from cannabis convictions. This historic vote comes after a seemingly sharp public shift of opinion towards legalization. According to a Gallup poll, 66% of Americans want to legalize marijuana, with a majority of Republicans also in favor at 51%.
Political experts believe the bill has a good chance of passing the House, but will have a much tougher time getting through the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has voiced his opposition to such measures, saying that although he supports hemp, he believes it is not the same plant as marijuana.
Many attempts to reform federal cannabis laws have been made indirectly, by adding provisions to non cannabis related bills. Many cannabis advocates believe that a direct approach to decriminalization would be more likely to pass both the House and Senate.
Trump has stated that under his administration, cannabis offenses would not be charged at the federal level and in 2018 voiced his support for the STATES Act, which would allow states to decide their own fate in regards to cannabis legislation. It is still unsure if he would sign the MORE Act if passed by congress in September 2020.
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Joseph Cassini is a writer and designer for The Cannabis Cactus Magazine. He enjoys cooking, history, and smoking cannabis outside of the city.