Yes! Last week a House committee approved a landmark bill that legalizes marijuana at a federal level. But before you start rejoicing, the bill still has a long way to go to the President’s desk.
This bill, Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, commonly called the MORE Act, was introduced by the Democratic Representative of New York – Jerrold Nadler. On November 20, 2019, the bill passed by 24-10 in the committee. The bill has more than 50 co-sponsors.
The MORE Act is designed to remove cannabis from the category of substances controlled federally. Furthermore, it would expunge arrests that were executed because of marijuana possession. The bill goes as far as approving reparations needed by the families affected by the war on drugs. As a result of this bill’s passing, an organization will be formed – Cannabis Justice Office.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler said, “These steps are long overdue. For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Federal action on this issue would follow growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable.” He further added at the bill markup, “Despite the federal government’s continuing criminalization of marijuana, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis.”
The passing of the bill is historic, as never before a congressional committee has passed a bill decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, that too with such major support. Unfortunately, it can be stalled at the Senate, that is if it passes the full House.
Mainly if the MORE Act passes the Senate, marijuana would be removed from the list of ‘Schedule I substance.’ This category consists of drugs such as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Heroin, Peyote, and Ecstasy.
Nadler says that,” States have led the way — and continue to lead the way — but our federal laws have not kept pace with the obvious need for change,” Nadler said in a statement. “We need to catch up because of public support and because it is the right thing to do.”
Such bills have been put forth at floor of the Senate, multiple times in the past. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said to reporters in December that he does not “have any to endorse the legalization of marijuana.” This came as a little strange as last year, he approved a farm bill that would legalize hemp.
It seems highly unlikely that the bill would be transformed into law under the leadership of President Donald Trump. The reason being, he is not for marijuana decriminalization and has opposed it openly. The President is so publicly against the marijuana legalization that he even donated a part of his presidential salary in 2019 to a promotional operation that showcases the ill effects of marijuana.
Marijuana Legalization is a hot issue that has been discussed for quite a while now. As a result, you can see it being discussed a lot at the Democratic Debates. In addition to being a favorite topic for discussion, Marijuana Legalization is also supported by the majority of Americans.
Currently, marijuana for medical use (prescribed by physicians) is legal in 33 states and Washington DC. And only 11 states and the District of Columbia have permitted the recreational use of marijuana.