Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives last week passed a bill that aims to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act was passed by 228-164 votes. The move comes after delayed action on the legislation due to the priorities of passing a coronavirus aid bill and avoiding a looming government shutdown.
If implemented, this landmark legislation will end the federal prohibition against marijuana. States can still prosecute for a cannabis offense but there won’t be any prosecutions at the federal level. Meanwhile, this legislation also decriminalizes cannabis. Cannabis will no longer feature on the list of forbidden controlled substances. According to a large majority in the House of Representatives, this legislation is a major step towards ending the war on drugs and racial inequalities.
With this legislation, low scale federal cannabis convictions can be easily expunged. Small marijuana businesses will flourish while creating more job opportunities. Overall, there will be enough scope for restorative justice. But can this pending bill eventually become law?
This legislation will most likely not become law this year, because of a lack of support from the Republican-controlled Senate. Experts are pessimistic about the bill’s prospects next year, as well. In 2021, the 117th Congress will convene.
The real challenge arises if Republicans win at least one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5. Republicans will continue to control the Senate and will keep a check on policies backed by the Democrats. With this, the odds of the cannabis legislation actually becoming law is less than 25 percent.
Support from the Democrats
Many Democrats including the U.S Representative from California, Barbara Lee, voiced their support in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. Prior to the voting last week, Cowen Washington Research Group analyst, Jaret Seiberg, said “there is little downside to supporting the MORE Act because it won’t become law.”
Similarly, in the past, the SAFE Banking Act, passed in the House of Representatives to protect banks, did not become law. How will the pending legislation impact the cannabis industry? Will the MORE Act eventually become law?
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