House Passes Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis, It Likely Won’t Become Law

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and…
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The House voted 228-164 in favor of the MORE Act, which would decriminalize cannabis nationwide.

On Friday, the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of the MORE Act, a bill that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and move towards erasing nonviolent federal marijuana convictions. However, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate and become law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already bashed Democrats for including diversity studies as a part of the reform effort.

“The bill is simply bad policy,” said Arizona Republican representative Debbie Lesko, who voted against the bill. “It does nothing to deter the use of marijuana by children, fails to require a warning label on the health risks posed by marijuana, and disregards science that shows marijuana directly affects parts of the brain responsible for memory and learning.”

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would create pathways to ownership in the emerging cannabis industry. It also would allow veterans to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from Veteran Affairs doctors.

“It is the right thing to do,” Oregon representative Earl Blumenauer said before the vote. Blumenauer is the co-sponsor of the bill and also co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “For too long, the war on drugs has targeted young people, especially Black people, and rejected the advice of experts.”

Friday marked the first time a full chamber of Congress focused on decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level. If passed, marijuana would be removed from the DEA’s Schedule one list. Blumenauer argues that unlike heroin and cocaine, which are also on that list, cannabis is not addictive and has been found to have therapeutic capabilities for managing pain.

“Public acceptance is at an all-time high,” he continued. “This is an idea whose time has come.”

On Election Day, voters in five more states–Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi–voted to legalize some form of marijuana usage. At the moment, 15 states, two territories and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis recreationally. 34 states have approved marijuana for medical usage.

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