The US House of Representatives on Friday voted to pass a bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. It’s a first step in making the drug legal and trying to reverse some of the damage that drug law statutes have caused, particularly in communities of color. The vote was cross-party with 220 yes votes and 204 no votes. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, but supporters say they are more hopeful the legislation will finally become law now that Democrats control both houses of Congress.
The reinvestment and deletion of the marijuana opportunity (or MORE act) would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list and introduce a federal tax on cannabis products. It would also establish a federal process for overturning convictions and reviewing sentences for previous cannabis convictions.
The House also added several amendments to the bill, including a requirement from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a study on the “impact of states’ legalization of recreational cannabis on the workplace” and to assist employers in developing best practices Updating their cannabis policy. Another, rejected Friday, would have removed cannabis use as a reason for denying a federal security clearance backdated to 1971.
The House passed an earlier version of the bill in a lame duck session in December 2020, only to see it stalled in the Senate. However, with midterms approaching, proponents believe the timing may finally be right for Congress to take action.
“I’m a lot more optimistic than I was last time,” Maritza Perez, director of the Drug Policy Action Office for National Affairs, said in an interview with The edge. “The law is the same version that passed in 2020 with no significant changes, so hopefully everyone who voted last time will vote for it again.”
House Judiciary Speaker Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a supporter of the bill, says the recent spate of Status legalization efforts put pressure on Congress. He said The edge he hopes “that the Senate will finally come [pass the MORE Act] So the federal government can join dozens of states in putting an end to this unfair and outdated policy.”
The fate of the MORE Act in the Senate is uncertain, but Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced bill for last summer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which could go before the Senate next month.
However, the Biden administration has not made progress Many anticipated cannabis reform, and their actions indicate an attitude that is still very anti-cannabis. For example in 2021 the White House staff were screened for marijuana and asked some who tested positive to quit or work remotely. It also updated rules earlier this month that could Deny security checks to potential job applicants who have invested in legal cannabis companies. And Perez said earlier hopes that Vice President Kamala Harris could influence the president’s thinking have cooled.
Additionally, Perez notes that Biden had an opportunity to reduce cannabis restrictions in Washington, DC, but did not. The President’s budget proposal for 2023 keeps a tab of that intact prevents DC from legalizing the sale of marijuanaalthough the city council of DC voted to decriminalize marijuana owned in 2014.
“To me that’s pretty shocking — you’d think the budget is one area where he could make a statement,” she said. “That tells me where his mind is; that he believes more research is needed.” Perez added that she thinks it’s possible Biden may still take action to grant clemency to people convicted of petty marijuana crimes.
During a hearing for the MORE bill before the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said the MORE bill would “address our nation’s failed approach to the war on drugs.” It’s worth noting that Biden played a key role in the federal drug war in the 1980s and 1990s; he wrote the Violent Crime Control and Enforcement Act of 1994, which escalated the War on Drugs and imposed harsher prison sentences for federal drug crimes.
Biden took a softer stance during the 2020 presidential campaign, saying he will seek to “reclassify cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative effects.” He has not yet taken any action to reschedule.
https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/1/22999751/cannabis-bill-decriminalize-more-passes-us-house-party-lines The US House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana