A historic vote on the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level was held by the House of Representatives.
By Friday afternoon, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) was passed. With this vote, one of the two chambers of Congress voted for the first time on the issue of federal decriminalization of cannabis, which is still illegal under federal law and has the same drug classification (Schedule 1) as heroin, ecstasy and LSD.
” I am so proud that the MORE bill passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 228 to 164,” Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter. “I introduced this bill to create restorative justice, modernize America’s cannabis laws, and allow America’s communities and small businesses to make meaningful investments. Now let’s make it the law.”
It would also overturn previous convictions for marijuana, impose a federal tax on the sale of the drug, provide funds for small marijuana businesses, and direct the proceeds to those most affected by previous drug enforcement laws.
The passing of the MORE law by parliament comes after a significant election day for the pro-cannabis movement. Voters in five states-Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota-have voted to legalize medical marijuana and marijuana for recreational purposes.
With these recent victories, marijuana is now legal for adults in 15 states and Washington, D.C., a significant increase from 2012, when Colorado and Washington were the first states to do so. Medical marijuana is legal in 35 states.
But despite the momentum for the marijuana movement, it is unlikely that the MORE bill will go very far in the Republican-controlled Senate. GOP leaders, including Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), mocked the Democrats this week for voting on the bill as the government remains deadlocked on delivering a second coronavirus aid package.
“This week, the majority of your House Democrats are addressing the difficult issues by taking a vote on legalizing grass and banning tiger ownership,” McCarthy wrote on Twitter. “Not for small businesses. Nothing for the reopening of schools. Nothing for fighting the pandemic. Only cannabis and cats.”
This is an evolving story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.