The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act by a 26-15 margin, including all 24 Democrats on the panel and two Republicans voting ‘yes,’ with 15 Republicans voting ‘no.’
The bill would remove cannabis from the federal schedule of controlled substances and expunge federal cannabis convictions. The legislation would also allow cannabis sales, including a federal tax.
In a statement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the “long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalizing marijuana.”
“It would also take steps to address the heavy toll this policy has taken across the country, particularly among communities of color. … I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”—Nadler in a press release
Several national polls have found broad support for the reforms, including an April 2021 Quinnipiac University poll which found 69% of Americans support cannabis legalization, with 25% opposed; a November 2020 Gallup poll which found 68%-32% split in favor of legalization; and an April 2021 Pew Research Center poll, which found 60% of Americans supported broad legalization, 31% support for medical use only, and just 8% supporting full prohibition.
“Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust,” Nadler added.
The proposal still needs to move out of the House Agriculture Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee before making its way to the full chamber.
Last December, the House passed the bill in a mostly partisan 228-164 vote. It was never considered in the Senate.
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