America’s House of Representatives is gearing up for a controversial vote on a new cannabis bill after social pressure from the Black Lives Matter protests lights a fire under lawmakers.
The ‘Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019’, or the MORE Act intends to decriminalise cannabis across the US. The act would officially remove cannabis as a federally controlled substance, removing its current status alongside heroin, LSD and peyote as a Schedule 1 drug.
The act would also expunge historical cannabis offences, convictions and arrests without states needing to individually pardon people. According to the bill, money that was previously spent on policing and prosecuting cannabis will also be allocated to communities affected by the war on drugs.
The MORE bill is due before the House of Representatives later this month. The bill was introduced into the House Judiciary Committee in November 2019, where it was passed in a 24 – 10 vote. The MORE bill was co-sponsored by 50 lawmakers, with Representative Jerrold Nadler introducing the bill by saying:
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.
The recreational use of cannabis is currently legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia, while the medicinal use of cannabis is legalised in 33 states and the District of Columbia. According to the Pew Research Centre, roughly two-thirds of Americans currently support legalizing recreational cannabis, with Democratic voters more supportive than Republicans.
For the MORE act to become law, it will need to be passed in the House of Representatives. It then moves to the senate, where it is being sponsored by Democratic vice-president nominee Senator Kamala Harriss.
As we reported in early August, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is no personal fan of cannabis. Despite his personal hesitations, Biden supports both the MORE bill and a Democratic Unity task force which aims to decriminalise cannabis.
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are both opposed to changing federal cannabis laws. In a speech earlier this month, Trump warned Republican candidates not to promise voters marijuana legislation.
If Biden wins the election on November 4th without the MORE bill passing, the Democrats intend to pursue federal legislation that would change cannabis into a Schedule 2 drug. You can read more about that here.