US House approves bill favoring federal marijuana decriminalization
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US House approves bill favoring federal marijuana decriminalization

The US House of Representatives voted 228-164 to approve the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) on Friday, which would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances. The legislation would provide for the expungement of some federal cannabis offenses and create incentives for minority-owned businesses to take part in the recent growth of the public cannabis market.

While five Republican Representatives from Alaska, California, Florida, and Virginia broke with parties lines to vote in favor of the MORE Act, six democrats did the same in opposition of the bill. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) who introduced the MORE Act took to Twitter after the bill passed to explain the intention of the proposed legislation: “I introduced this bill to provide restorative justice, modernize America’s cannabis laws, and deliver meaningful investments to America’s communities & small businesses.”

While many states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, staunch opponents to federal decriminalization still exist. Representative Pete Stauber (R-MN) expressed concern that the bill took energy away from talks over COVID-19 relief. Stauber stated: “We have the responsibility to provide relief to the American people. Sadly, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi is abandoning this responsibility by prioritizing drug legalization legislation instead.”

Though the bill made it through the House, it is less likely to pass in the currently Republican-held Senate. There are still hopes that the MORE Act could pass if two Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5th, 2021 result in a Democrat-controlled Senate.