The House of Representatives is set to hold a vote on the MORE Act next month, marking the first time either chamber of Congress will have voted on whether to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
In an email to House members on Friday, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) said the vote would happen “during the September work period” but did not include a date.
In addition to removing cannabis from the CSA, 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.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Or) told Politico that the bill would “finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice.”
The bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-led Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remains strongly opposed and could decide not to bring it up for a vote. Last September, the House approved the SAFE Banking Act – which would normalize banking for the cannabis industry – but the bill has not come up for a vote in the Senate, nearly a year later. Moreover, Senate Republicans are, by and large, opposed to cannabis legalization.
The measure’s lead sponsor in the Senate in Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris.