Legislation decriminalizing cannabis has been approved for the first time today by a United States Congressional Committee in a 24-10 vote.
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was approved on Wednesday November 20, 2019 by the House Judiciary.
Under this bill, cannabis would be federally descheduled and prior cannabis conviction expunged. The bill also states to impose a five percent tax on cannabis sales, reinvesting revenue in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.
This legislation, introduced by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) also aims to protect individuals for cannabis use. The bill addresses resentencing those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, preventing federal agencies from denying benefits and clearances over cannabis use, and also protecting immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis.
“These steps are long overdue. For far too long we’ve treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people at the federal level is unwise and unjust. I’ve long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities”, Nadler stated in his opening remarks.
At a markup hearing, held to debate amendments to the bill, conservatives proposed a bill known as the STATES Act, which will allow states to set their own cannabis laws without threat of federal intervention.
Ratification of this bill continues as voting will progress throughout the house, which may involve the consideration of several different committees and then to the senate.