The House of Representatives will vote next month on legislation to remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) announced in an email to lawmakers on Friday.
BREAKING: The U.S. House will vote on a bill to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
So that's historic.
Vote date TBD. pic.twitter.com/wTF0m2QZf6
— Natalie Fertig (@natsfert) August 28, 2020
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, introduced by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) last year, “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.”
The MORE Act would also:
- “replaces statutory references to marijuana and marihuana 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.”
Even if the MORE Act clears the House, it likely faces an enormous uphill battle in the culturally conservative Republican-led Senate. Nevertheless, supporters of reform are thrilled that change my finally be coming.
“Less than two years ago, we put out our blueprint outlining a path to cannabis legalization in the 116th Congress,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment. “Now, 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.”
As things currently stand, drug prohibition laws have disproportionately negative impacts on communities of color. This is true regarding enforcement of laws and how offenders are punished.
Despite being legal for recreational use in 11 states, marijuana, and specifically psycoactive THC, has been listed as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act since 1970, which means the government considers it to be as addictive as heroin.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.