The House of Representatives voted Friday to approve legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and remove penalties for certain cannabis-related offenses by a vote of 220-204, with few Republicans supporting the measure.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE), sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler D-N.Y., would take marijuana off the list of controlled substances and would eliminate criminal penalties for individuals who grow, distribute or possess it.
But the MORE Act will need to gain 60 votes in the evenly divided Senate before moving to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, an outcome widely seen as unlikely given the lack of Republican support for the measure.
The bill would “end decades of failed and unjust marijuana policy,” Rep. Ed Perlmutter D-C.O., said on the House floor on Thursday ahead of the vote. “It is clear prohibition is over. Today we have an opportunity to chart a new path forward on federal cannabis policy that actually makes sense.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer D-N.Y., who vowed to make marijuana legislation a priority, is working on a separate bill with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., that is expected to be introduced in April but would need all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans to pass the Senate.
Shannon Longworth: The House of Representatives voted pretty much along party lines to decriminalize marijuana today.
Does that mean we’re closer to that reality nationwide?
Well, probably not. The Senate will likely block the MORE act.
It’s one of the latest efforts by democrats to take marijuana off the list of controlled substances… easing restrictions on cannabis use and the penalties for those caught with it. It’d also impose a sales tax on it….ultimately saving the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
Rep. Jerry Nadler | (D) New York: “The MORE act is long overdue legislation that would reverse decades of failed federal policies based on the criminalization of marijuana. It would also take steps to address the heavy toll these policies have taken across the country, particularly among communities of color.”
Rep. Cliff Bentz | (R) Oregon: “What’s deeply and truly disturbing, however, about this bill is its failure to address the clear consequences of legalization, such as what this drug does to children, to drivers on our highways, to the mental health of up to 30% of those adults who choose to use marijuana.”
Shannon Longworth: This is the 2nd time in history that cannabis legalization will be taken up by a full chamber of Congress. An earlier version of the bill passed the House in 2020, but stalled in the Senate.