On Friday, April 1, the US House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on a federal level. The bill still needs to pass the Senate, which does not appear likely, but it is evident that the proposal has widespread public support.
The MORE Act, also known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, would remove marijuana from the federal list of banned narcotics and impose a government tax on cannabis goods. It would also try to have some previous cannabis-related convictions expunged and sentences for previous federal cannabis offences reviewed. The MORE Act was passed by a vote of 220 to 204 in the House. The vote was largely partisan, with Republicans accounting for the vast bulk of the votes against (202) and only two Democrats voting against it.
However, chances of the MORE Act passing the Senate remain slim. In December 2020, the House passed a version of the identical law, but it was blocked in the Senate. Democrats currently own 48 members in the House, while Republicans hold 50, and it’s expected that the bill would be split down the middle. Cannabis decriminalization is a popular policy in the United States. According to a Pew Research poll conducted in 2021, 60% of Americans believe cannabis should be allowed for both medical and recreational purposes, while 30% feel it should only be legal for medical purposes. Only 8% believe cannabis should be illegal for adults to use.
The public’s support for this current bill is fueled by a variety of powerful factors. Many Americans are beginning to understand the economic benefits of decriminalizing and taxing cannabis in the same way that they do alcohol. In recent years, a growing number of individuals have become dissatisfied with the unsuccessful “war on drugs,” which has disproportionately harmed communities of color and the poor.
“Make no mistake: this is a bill about racial justice.” It’s about the thousands of African-Americans who are incarcerated for marijuana charges while others profit. It’s about putting an end to the War on Drugs’ devastating effects on communities and families across the country. In a statement, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a Democrat from California, thanked everyone who helped make today possible and urged her colleagues to enact the corresponding bill in the Senate as soon as possible.