Congress Plans to Vote on Federal Cannabis Legalization This Week

[Canniseur: What a beautiful headline. Too bad its chances of passage in both houses is about 0. Mitch McConnell, who is one of the most obstructionist Senate Majority leaders in history, will stop it dead in its tracks. In an ironic situation, McConnell, ever the hypocrite is heavily invested in hemp production.]

This week, the House Judiciary Committee plans to vote on a comprehensive cannabis reform bill that would decriminalize cannabis and help address social damages caused by the failed War on Drugs.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would completely remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill would also create a Cannabis Justice Office, a new division of the Department of Justice that would be tasked with providing restorative justice to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.

The Cannabis Justice Office would work to expunge the records of anyone with minor weed offenses and allow those who are currently behind bars for weed crimes to apply for resentencing. Federal agencies would be prevented from denying public benefits or security clearances to cannabis users, and immigration authorities would be prevented from deporting individuals over small-scale cannabis use.

The bill would impose a five percent federal tax on all state-legal cannabis sales. Revenue generated by this tax would be used to fund programs providing job training, small business loans, and legal aid for socially and economically disadvantaged Americans. Additionally, the bill would work to remove barriers hindering marginalized individuals from getting involved in the legal weed industry.

“Low-income communities and communities of color have disproportionately borne the brunt of the devastation brought on by marijuana prohibition,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy manager of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Moment reports. “The MORE Act is the most robust bipartisan legislation [effort] so far not only to end federal marijuana prohibition, but also to ensure that the communities that have been hardest hit by prohibition are not left behind.”

The proposal, which has been co-sponsored by 54 Democratic Representatives and one open-minded Republican, is scheduled to be “marked up” in the Judiciary Committee this Wednesday. During this process, members of the committee will be able to file amendments to the bill and then vote on whether to advance it to the full House for a floor vote.

“A supermajority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, support regulating the use of marijuana by responsible adults,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal in a statement. “Thanks to the leadership of the House Judiciary chairman, never in history have we been closer to ending the failed policy of marijuana criminalization and providing pathways to opportunity for our brothers and sisters who have suffered under its oppressive reign.”

“Those who oppose this legislation moving forward are defenders of a failed status-quo that ruins the lives of otherwise law-abiding adults on a daily basis, [overwhelmingly] enforced against the poor and communities of color,” Strekal added.

Insiders predict that the MORE Act will be approved by the Judiciary Committee, but it is unclear whether the House will also pass this landmark bill. Even if the bill does pass, it is more likely to face stiff opposition in the Republican-dominated Senate. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has introduced a companion bill in Congress’ higher chamber, but GOP leaders have yet to schedule any action on the bill.

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