On Wednesday, a key Congressional committee passed legislation that would decriminalize and tax marijuana as well as expunging federal marijuana convictions. However, to become law, it has to be approved by the full House and the Republican-controlled Senate. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill by a vote of 24 to 10.
The bill is known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 and was introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and co-sponsored by more than 50 legislators. The legislation has the following provisions:
- Remove weed from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act, which includes drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, and ecstasy.
- Allow states to create their own marijuana policies, decriminalize low-level marijuana felonies, and seal the record for past federal convictions.
- Create a Cannabis Justice Office that would impose a 5% tax on legal marijuana sales to fund job training, legal aid, and help people who are negatively affected by marijuana prohibition.
In a statement, Nadler said that the MORE Act has been long overdue. He further said that rather than handling marijuana as an issue of personal choice and public health, the government has been taking it as a criminal justice problem. Nadler asserted that it is unwise and unjust to federally arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for using recreational or medical marijuana.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey in November 2019 which revealed that more than two-thirds of American adults support the legalization of medical and adult-use marijuana. However, only 8% said that marijuana should remain illegal in all forms.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, currently, in the U.S., medical and recreational marijuana is legal in eleven states, including the District of Columbia, while medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.
Although the public is in favor of the bill, the majority of the Republicans are still on the fence about pursuing marijuana legalization.
On Wednesday, Colorado Republican and Committee member, Ken Buck said he is doubtful the Republicans will back this bill. He is almost sure that the Senate will not even consider it. Buck’s suggestion for the House is to deal with other measures that would get bipartisan support.
All 2020 presidential candidates, except the former Vice President Joe Biden, are in favor of marijuana legalization. Biden openly opposed marijuana legalization during the primary debates on Wednesday saying that more scientific research is needed to prove that it is not a “gateway drug.” Although the Centers for Disease Control agree with the need for further studies, the organization also noted that people who use weed do not proceed to use other hard drugs.
One can only imagine that marijuana companies like LiveWire Ergogenics Inc. (OTC: LVVV) and No Borders Inc. (OTC: NBDR) will only celebrate once the MORE Act is approved by Senate and signed into law by the President.
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