The House Passes Another Federal Cannabis Bill

In recent cannabis industry news, the House committee has passed legislation to federally legalize marijuana and promote social equity. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement or the MORE Act for short has passed the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee members and legislation’s sponsor, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, on a 26-15 decision. The total came mainly along party lines, with all Democrats supporting the measure. To which only about two Republicans voted against the federal cannabis bill.

The advancement has come just a week after the entire House voted in favor of a defense spending bill. This particular bill has a measure that would shield banks that service state-legal cannabis businesses. Specifically from being punished by federal regulators.

“This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana. It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color,” Nadler said in opening remarks. “I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said that “this is an important criminal justice reform bill, and I commend the chairman for once again introducing this bill and bringing it before the committee. In fact, it consolidates the discussions that we’ve had about the over-incarceration of individuals who were addicted or caught up in the cycle of drugs, many of them people of color in inner-city neighborhoods.”

Ranking Member Jim Jordan spoke against the proposal. Mr. Jordan called it a “radical, out-of-touch Democrat priority” and a “marijuana stimulus bill.”

What’s Next For Federal Cannabis Reform

Rep. Steve Cohen spoke in regards to cannabis criminalization and how it’s used to target neighborhoods of color. He said the time for legalization “has come, and time came a long time ago.”

Nadler also stressed the racial differences in marijuana enforcement. This was down by recognizing that his own son was caught selling cannabis in high school. Although his son was taken back to his house versus going to jail. The chairman did mention if his child happen to be black, the cops “would have arrested him.”

However, most Republicans who voiced their side argued against the bill. Rep. Matt Gaetz , who is a co-sponsor of the legislation, made the case for reform.

“I am a proud co-sponsor of the MORE Act because the federal government has screwed up marijuana policy in this country for a generation,” he said. “We lied to people about the effects of marijuana. And then we used marijuana as a cudgel to incarcerate just wide swaths of communities, and particularly in African-American communities.”

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The Future Of Federal Cannabis Reform in The USA

“We cannot honestly say that the war on drugs impacted suburban white communities in the same way it affected urban black communities. Again we can’t say that marijuana enforcement was happening the same way on the corner than it was happening in the fraternity house,” he said. “Currently we have an opportunity to fix that problem. The war on drugs, much like many of our forever wars, has been a failure. If there’s been a war on drugs, drugs have won that war.”

Still, he revealed genuine concerns about the requirements of the bill. For example the recommended federal excise tax on the sale of legal marijuana. While Gaetz also stated that while he supports the MORE Act, he doesn’t think it holds a chance to make it through the Senate. To which he also said he supports passing more moderate cannabis legislation.

While the legislation has largely stayed whole in contrast to the last version that cleared the chamber. This happened back in 2020 and at the time was one of the more historic cannabis votes. There were some small changes that were added upon its reintroduction back in May.

The panel on Thursday did consider additional revisions before passing the measure through the House. However, a great deal of the time was used discussing unrelated issues such as COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to policies on abortion and protests against police violence.

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Will This Federal Cannabis Bill Survive In The Senate

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) attempted to eliminate the bill’s tax provisions. As well as award money it would create to help restore the damage caused by the war on drugs. Predominantly a libertarian legislator, Massie backs the general idea of ending cannabis prohibition. However, Massie does not support building new government programs.

“If you want a bill that is not politically paralyzed, if you want a bill that can reach across the aisle, if you want a bill that can pass the Senate—that they’ll be motivated to bring up in the Senate—then please vote for my amendment, which leaves most of the bill intact.” Massie said. “Let’s work across the aisle and let’s get a serious bill to the floor.”

The amendment was ruled out of order by the chairman. But, this was because it suggested changes to parts of the bill that are under the jurisdiction of other committees.

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