Federal legal marijuana is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. This week, the House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill which would ultimately decriminalize cannabis nationwide.
According to reports, a 24-10 vote went down Wednesday for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019.
The bill would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, allow states to set their own marijuana policy and require federal courts to expunge prior convictions for marijuana offenses. A 5% tax on marijuana products would also establish a trust fund for programs designed to help people disproportionately impacted by the “war on drugs,” including job training and treatment for substance abuse. (CBS News)
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has since addressed the bill’s historic approval.
“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust.”
In recent years, massive arrests have been made stemming from marijuana-related charges.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, marijuana arrests account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States. U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday repeatedly cited the disproportionate impact drug laws have had on communities of color, saying that decriminalizing marijuana helps alleviate some of that imbalance. (CNBC)
The bill is now headed for further voting in the House and potentially the Senate.
Many observers expect the MORE Act to receive a favorable vote if it reaches the House floor. The bill’s fate in the Senate is much less certain, however, and may depend on the kind of compromises that Nadler said he hoped to avoid. This markup garnered significant attention, as it represents the first of its kind that isn’t simply a debate about whether cannabis prohibition should be ended—which occurred in a House subcommittee over the summer—but an actual vote on a bill that would accomplish legalization. (Marijuana Moment)