In a move that could help states reap higher tax revenues, the House Judiciary Committee has passed a bill that could decriminalize weed at the federal level.
Called the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019,” or “MORE Act,” has the potential to make sweeping marijuana reforms at the federal level.
The bill, if it passes the Senate in its current form, has the capacity to enact sweeping changes to marijuana policy in the US. Criminal records for prior offenders could be expunged, cannabis could be removed from the list of federally-controlled substances, and more resources could be allocated to helping communities impacted by the “War on Drugs.”
The bill was introduced by Democrat and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and passed the committee 24 to 10. Now, the bill needs to pass the entire House of Representatives, which it is likely to do thanks to a Democratic majority. However, following that, it would need to pass the Senate, which retained a Republican majority in the 2018 midterms. It’s unlikely the bill will go anywhere once it hits the Senate.
Nadler, when addressing the committee, expounded on his thoughts regarding the state of marijuana criminalization in the US. “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,” the lawmaker told his fellow Representatives. “Federal action on this issue would follow growing recognition in the states that the status quo is unacceptable.”
The chairman of the committee continued “Despite the federal government’s continuing criminalization of marijuana, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis.” A major component of Nadler’s emphasis on the bill is that it will allow each individual state to decide how they handle their own marijuana laws. This could lead to some confusing scenarios from state to state, however.
Several prominent 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, have unveiled their own plans for sweeping reforms to the way the federal government handles the criminal justice system. This includes legalizing marijuana nationwide for some of the candidates. Interestingly, legalization could become a crux point for some voters in the upcoming election.