This week, the United States House of Representatives could be voting on the federal legalization of cannabis. Representative Jerry Nadler announced on Monday that the house judiciary committee had posted a markup for HR 3884 a.k.a. the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act — which means a vote could go down as early as Wednesday.
“I look forward to moving this legislation out of the House Judiciary Committee, making it one step closer to becoming law,” said Nadler in a press release.
From the get-go, the MORE Act looked like it had a better-than-average chance at making it through the legislative gauntlet than its many predecessors. The bill was created and introduced by Nadler of New York, who is the judiciary committee chair.
Pressure has increased on Congress to pass federal legalization ever since it approved the SAFE Act. That bill guaranteed banking protections for cannabis companies and financial institutions, raising many questions about why similar relief has not been given to cannabis users and the United States’ sizable population of individuals incarcerated on drug-related charges.
Primary on the MORE Act’s priorities is the re-classification of marijuana to remove it from the Controlled Substances Act and Schedule I category that defines it as a material with no medicinal value. It would empower states to craft their own regulations when it comes to cannabis.
New Law Would Also Tackle Dire Social Justice Issues
The MORE Act would encourage states to provide expungement for some past cannabis-related criminal offenses, and provide protection for marijuana users living in federally subsidized housing. It would remove restrictions currently on the Small Business Administration that block it from assisting cannabis entrepreneurs.
The MORE Act also looks to help vets. Currently, doctors with the VA are not allowed to speak with patients about medicinal cannabis usage, and residents in federally-assisted nursing facilities are not allowed to consume marijuana at their place of residence. The proposed legislation would lift those restrictions in states that choose to regulate cannabis.
The legislation is sponsored in the Senate as SB 2227 by 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate Kamala Harris, who has reversed her previous position on cannabis legalization to become one of the cause’s champions on the campaign trail. All the Democratic White House front-runners have endorsed federal cannabis legalization except for former vice president Joe Biden, who supports marijuana decriminalization.
On Tuesday, Nadler was joined by Representatives Barbara Lee, Earl Blumenauer, Nydia Velázquez, Steve Cohen, and Pramila Jayapal at a press conference to discuss the bill’s upcoming chance at a floor vote.
Key to the changing chances of marijuana legalization have been the issue’s increasingly bi-partisan support. Recent poll numbers tell us that 55 percent of Republican voters support legalizing recreational marijuana. Only 12 percent of Republican voters said that cannabis should not be legal for either recreational or medicinal use. The party has already taken note in some surprising parts of the country — Texas Republicans recently voted to add marijuana decriminalization to their state-wide platform.