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BREAKING: House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Weed

BREAKING: House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Weed

The United States House of Representatives on Friday passed the The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which “removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A vote was initially scheduled in October but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MORE Act, first proposed in 2019 by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), also contains the following provisions:

      • replaces statutory references to marijuana and marijuana with cannabis,

      • requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,

      • establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,

      • imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,

      • makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,

      • prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,

      • prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction), and

      • establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.

The final tally was 228-164, making the MORE Act a rare example of bipartisan cooperation on a controversial issue.

The bill’s lone Republican co-sponsor, Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz (yes, that Matt Gaetz), remarked that legalizating weed is a matter of personal freedom.

“If we were measuring the success of the war on drugs … drugs have won,” said Gaetz. “Because the American people do not support the policies of incarceration, limited research, limited choice and, particularly, constraining medical application.”

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Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, one of the MORE Act’s Democratic co-sponsors, noted that the federal government has slogged way behind progress being made on pot in the states.

“We are not rushing to legalize marijuana — the American people have already done that,” Blumenauer said. “We are here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 50 million regular marijuana users in every one of your districts. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

And, as Axios pointed out, momentum is on legalization’s side:

Marijuana is legal for recreational adult use in 15 states and legal for medicinal use in 36 states. A2019 Axios/SurveyMonkey poll found that 63% of Americans support the federal legalization of marijuana.

The MORE Act will now head to the Republican-led Senate, where it will probably fail – if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chooses put it up for a vote. Right now, McConnell is scrambling to reach an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on additional coronavirus relief and on a government spending bill to prevent a shutdown on December 11.

Come on Mitch, throw us a bone. We deserve it.

Forty-seven days until the inauguration.

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