The House of Representatives is getting ready to vote on a landmark bill officially decriminalizing marijuana use at the federal level. Should the bill pass it would make history as the first marijuana policy reform legislation passed by lawmakers.
An email sent out by Majority Whip James Clyburn, stated that Congress is set to vote on the legislation in September. The pending vote was first reported by Politico.
Even if the bill does not pass, it’s a sign that consensus is building among Washington lawmakers to admit that the federal war on drugs has been a complete failure at great cost to Americans.
Moreover, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, Kamala Harris, has stated clearly that should she and Joe Biden be elected in November, the new Democratic administration will decriminalize marijuana in 2021.
It seems to be just a matter of time before the federal government washes its hands of prosecuting Americans for marijuana possession and leaving the matter up to individual states to decide.
It’s important to point out here that a number of states have resisted legalization due to federal prohibition. Moreover, most financial institutions and many investors have been reluctant to serve and invest in the marijuana industry preferring to wait until marijuana is no longer illegal on the federal level. The majority of the United States have adopted some sort of medical marijuana card
program, with 11 supporting recreational programs.
Furthermore, federal legalization would eventually result in public cannabis companies
in the U.S. being able to list their stocks on the major stock markets such as NASDAQ and NYSE. Currently, because Canada has officially legalized marijuana, Canadian cannabis companies are permitted to list their stocks on the major exchanges.
What’s in the MORE Act?
The MORE Act (“Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019”) would federally decriminalize and officially remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances. This follows on the heels of the Federal Farm Bill, which paved the way for the regulated hemp industry to get underway, as well as defined some of the laws for hemp based CBD products
According to the bill, federal marijuana arrests and convictions would be overturned. Moreover, resources would be reallocated for communities affected by the war on drugs.
"I'm pleased to bring the MORE Act to the House Floor next month to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level," Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement to ABC News Monday. "This legislation is an important step to correct the disproportionate impact our criminal justice system has had on communities of color."
House Majority Whip James Clyburn said in an internal memo to Democrats on Friday that the bill “requires federal courts to expunge prior marijuana-related convictions and arrests and authorizes the assessment of a 5% sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products to create an Opportunity Trust Fund."
Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina, wrote in the memo obtained by ABC News: "This fund would include grant programs administered by the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration to support individuals who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs, provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners, and minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment."
The MORE Act would also ensure that Cannabis would be removed as a Schedule I substance
, a category that includes illegal substances such as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote, and allow individual states to regulate it.
"A floor vote on the bill would be the greatest federal cannabis reform accomplishment in over 80 years," the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce said in a statement Friday.
The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, co-sponsored by more than 50 lawmakers, by a vote of 24-10 in November, and was introduced by Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, from New York.
"These steps are long overdue. For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health," Nadler stated at the time. "Whatever one's views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust."
The bottom line here is that ending federal prohibition would spur further cannabis policy reform by U.S. states and also open the flood gates for investment massive capital to pour into the industry.
The future looks bright for cannabis, America.