United States: the House of Representatives approves federal decriminalization for the second time

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The United States House of Representatives last Friday approved the MORE Act, a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, for the second time.

After an hour of debate on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, the House voted 220 to 204, mostly on a partisan line, to end federal cannabis prohibition and promote social equity in the industry.

A nearly identical version of the MORE Act passed in 2020, but it stalled in the Senate.

Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic representative carrying the bill, opened Friday’s debate by calling the MORE Act “long overdue legislation that would reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of cannabis.” »

The MORE Act would remove cannabis from U.S. controlled substances law, allowing states to legalize cannabis markets without fear of federal interference. It includes provisions for expunging or re-sentencing individuals with non-violent federal cannabis-related convictions.

It would also promote diversity in the cannabis industry at the state level and help repair the disproportionate damage caused by the US War on Drugs. According to a recent analysis of Congressional Budget Officethe law, if passed, would increase tax revenue by more than $8 billion over a 10-year period and would also drastically reduce federal prison costs.

Two relatively minor amendments to the MORE law were adopted at the same time:

  • Representative Josh Gottheimer has offered to allocate $10 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) to research “technology and methods law enforcement can use to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana”
  • Representative Conor Lamb called on Congress to conduct a study on “the impact of state legalization of recreational cannabis in the workplace. »

The bill is now heading to the Senate where it needs 60 votes to advance, including 10 Republican votes. There is currently no similar bill in the Senate, but Majority Leader CHuck Schumer, along with Senators Booker and Wyden, are expected to introduce a comprehensive cannabis reform bill within the next month. If the text was voted on in the Senate, Joe Biden would then have to sign it for it to become law.

The MORE Act isn’t the only federal legalization project underway. Senator Nancy Mace notably introduced the Reform of the States Act (States Reform Act), who may have a better chance in the Senate.

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