In the biggest step towards full-scale federal cannabis legislation yet, House Judiciary members could push the marijuana reform bill to the floor of the full Congress as soon as this week.
Federal legislators in the Congressional Judiciary Committee will have a chance to advance a far-reaching cannabis legalization bill to the House floor this week in a previously unexpected and potentially historic vote.
First reported by Forbes contributor and Marijuana Moment founder Tom Angell, the Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on Wednesday. The MORE Act was introduced in Congress this past July by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). If passed, the MORE Act would remove cannabis from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act, finally ending the plant’s Schedule I status and effectively legalizing weed nationwide.
In addition to ending prohibition, the More Act would also create a Cannabis Justice Office in the federal Department of Justice, implement a 5% nationwide cannabis sales tax, allow for expungement of past pot charges, and construct social equity programs for potential ganjapreneurs previously hindered by the War on Drugs.
“Mr. Nadler and the judiciary committee were very thoughtful as they crafted the MORE Act,” Justin Strekal, the Political Director of the nationwide cannabis advocacy group NORML, said in a statement this summer. “We believe this is the first comprehensive and workable legislation that has a real shot at passing in a chamber of Congress.”
Federal legislators have introduced cannabis legalization bills in the past, but none have ever made it out of committee and onto a full floor vote. But with 55 co-sponsors already signed on to support the MORE Act, lawmakers are hopeful that this week’s vote can turn around past legislative flare outs.
If the Judicial Committee approves the MORE Act this coming Wednesday, the bill would move to the House floor for a full vote. If it is successful at that level, the proposal would be transferred to the Senate where the process would start all over again. But while lawmakers and industry experts are relatively confident about succeeding in the Democratically controlled Congress, the same cannot be said for the Republican-led Senate. Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced a MORE Act companion bill in the Senate this past July, but that bill has not amassed the same support as its Congressional counterpart.
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