This is the sequel to a (very) long political soap opera. The bill to legalize cannabis throughout the United States – that is, at the federal level – is coming back before the House of Representatives. It will be presented to the 435 congressman and congresswoman next week, says the Congress website.
This is the second try for the so-called MORE law – Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement act. This text had already received the green light from the House of Representatives at the end of 2020. But, at the time, it had not passed the second stage, the Senate being controlled by a Republican party hostile to legalization.
This law provides for a “decriminalization” cannabis at the federal level. Clearly, the plant will no longer appear in the list of “controlled substances”, that is, what the US government considers to be drugs. Currently, cannabis is in the list of category 1 drugs, alongside LSD, ecstasy and heroin. Cocaine is in category 2.
With the MORE law, cannabis will therefore not be “legalized” at the federal level. It will be up to each state to authorize or not its trade, as is already the case in 19 American states. But this decriminalization should make things easier for the sector, in particular “access to bank loans and capital“, notes the bill in its introduction.
Democrats have a majority in the House, not the Senate
The passage of this law in the House should not be a problem. The Democrats have 222 seats, against 210 for the Republicans. But the path will not be finished. Indeed, for the bill to become law, it must also receive the stamp of the Senate, then that of President Biden.
At the time, the senators had said no to the MORE law. The text had remained stuck in committee, the parliamentarians never voted in plenary session. But since then, the situation has changed. The upper house of Congress has gone from red – Republican color – to Democratic blue.
Joe Biden’s party now has a very narrow lead. Even though Republicans and Democrats both have 50 senators, the vice president of the United States votes in the event of a perfect tie. And that person is Kamala Harris. She has previously expressed support for the legalization of cannabis at the federal level.
Moreover, if the MORE law fails, another could take up the torch. In the Senate, the leader of the Democratic majority has been preparing a text for several months. But President Biden opposes it.