In a groundbreaking move this week, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has approved the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) bill to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and permanently legalize it at the federal level.
Beyond federal legalization, the bill would allow states to introduce their own legislation and regulations on marijuana – even banning it completely. It would also introduce a 5% tax on cannabis products to support training programs and legal assistance for those who have been impacted by prior marijuana-related convictions. Likewise, the bill gives incentives to state governments to clear these persons’ criminal records.
This proposed legislation passed the house committee vote by 24 to 10 on Wednesday, November 20. It now moves onto the approval process in the full House, where it is expected to pass, and then the Senate. Legislators expect a much bigger fight in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who’ve expressed opposition to marijuana legalization. Only two Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the MORE bill this week.
However, a majority of Americans have expressed support for legal cannabis. Currently, only 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana and 33 have legalized medical marijuana. But with the growing popularity of CBD and cannabis as health trends, two-thirds of U.S. citizens now believe marijuana should be federally legal.
“These steps are long overdue. For far too long we’ve treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health,” said Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee. “Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people at the federal level is unwise and unjust…The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”
The committee vote comes two months after the House approved a bill encouraging banks and financial institutions to do business with state-legal cannabis companies. This was another huge step for the industry, which has been barred from substantial expansion due to the lack of access to necessary business services.
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