Democratic leaders in the U.S. House said they are pushing back the vote on the MORE Act – which would end federal cannabis prohibition – as the chamber needs to focus on the coronavirus relief bill, NJ.com reports. The MORE Act vote had been expected this month.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) indicated the chamber would bring a vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act by the end of the year.
“The MORE Act remains a critical component of House Democrats’ plan for addressing systemic racism and advancing criminal justice reform. Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.” – Hoyer to NJ.com
In a statement, Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Barbara Lee (CA) said “the public deserves this vote.”
“As Americans confront hundreds of years of systemic racial injustice, ending the failed war on drugs that has disproportionately hurt Black and Brown Americans must be front and center,” they said.
In addition to removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the measure requires federal courts to expunge prior cannabis-related convictions and would authorize a 5 percent tax on sales to create an Opportunity Trust Fund. The fund would be administered by the Department of Justice and Small Business Administration to support those who have been adversely affected by the ‘War on Drugs’ by providing assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners and minimize barriers to cannabis licensing and employment.
State lawmakers would still have to pass legislation to legalize cannabis – and cannabis sales – in their state.
The measure faces strong opposition in the Republican-led Senate.