The legalization of marijuana got one step closer to become a reality at the federal level. The house voted in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement act– the MORE act.
This is the first time the full chamber of commerce has voted to decriminalize cannabis federally. The bill is a move to remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances act.
The bill does not only aim to legalize marijuana but also to invest in the most vulnerable communities and provide opportunities for success for those who have been most harmed by this act.
If the bill also passed through the Republican-controlled Senate and enacted into law, the MORE act would legalize marijuana, use tax revenue from marijuana businesses to help strengthen communities of color, prohibit immigrants from being deported or denied citizenship due to a marijuana offense and ensure no one is denied public benefits.
The vote was largely along party lines – 228-164. Five Republicans and the lone independent member joined Democrats to pass the bill, and six Democrats voted No. The big trump ally- Matt Gates, was one among the few Republicans who supported this bill. He has not only supported the bill but was also the only Republican co-sponsor of this legislation, along with dozens and dozens of Democrats.
In his speech, the Florida representative Matt Gates(R) said– “My republican colleagues will make a number of arguments against this bill, but those arguments are overwhelmingly losing with the American people.” He further added– “In every state where cannabis reform was on the ballot in this country, it passed with overwhelming support.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who sponsored the bill, said he thought Washington shouldn’t stay so far behind parts of the nation. Many other House Democrats who have advocated for federal action also said it was long overdue.
The MORE act also allows courts to clear marijuana-related convictions from a person’s criminal record. The record-clearance measures have been impactful for states like Illinois and California, who made sure expungements were key pieces of their marijuana statutes.
However, Republicans strongly denounced the measure, saying criminals should not be released early. They also said federal decriminalization would contribute to more death and injury from impaired drivers using marijuana.
As a lot of the states around the country have already passed such bill, and in the past election, five states legalized marijuana, including red states like South Dakota and Montana, this move seems like democrats-led house speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to do is just use the momentum that’s happening at the states already and make a statement that federal government is on board too.
On the other side, as expected, the elated marijuana industry welcomes this historic move. According to the people linked with the cannabis industry– the MORE act decriminalizes marijuana and opens up opportunities for many folks, including existing cannabis businesses.
They add, at present, cannabis businesses are taxed at a level under section 280E of the tax code, where they pay over 50% in taxes to the federal government. But if enacted into law– this bill will significantly reduce the tax to 5-8%!
Although the marijuana bill is expected to die this year in the Senate, Democrats could vote on a similar bill in the next session of Congress.
President-elect Joe Biden is a strong advocate of decriminalization. But control of the senate is still unclear, depending on two runoff races that will determine the majority in January.