House Majority Whip Announces House “Will Be Voting Soon” on Cannabis Legalization

House Majority Whip James Clyburn sent an email to members on Friday announcing that the full House “will be voting soon” on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act). The Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in November 2019, the first legalization bill to receive a Congressional markup and vote.

Specifically, Clyburn wrote in the email, which was first reported by Politico, and confirmed by Cannabis Wire, “during the September work period, the House is expected to consider” H.R. 3884, a bill that would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing cannabis nationwide, and create a process for the expungement of convictions for federal cannabis offenses.

Further the bill would authorize a 5% sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products, and put that revenue toward an Opportunity Trust Fund, to be used, at least in part, so that the Department of Justice and the Small Business Administration could “support individuals who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs, provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners, and minimize barriers to marijuana licensing and employment,” Clyburn’s email noted. 

The bill would allow states to decide “the status of marijuana legality” within their own borders, meaning that more conservative states could remain “dry.” 

California Rep. Barbara Lee, a co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, told Cannabis Wire that the MORE Act is the “next step in our goal of ending the harmful prohibition of cannabis in 2021.” 

“It’s extremely encouraging to see our House leadership moving forward on this issue. We are facing challenging times in our fight for racial equity and law enforcement reform, and passing the MORE Act is crucial to addressing our country’s history of injustice,” Lee said. 

Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, also co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, echoed Lee’s emphasis on racial justice. 

“After many months of hard work and collaboration, we finally have a chance to end the failed policy of prohibition that has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against people of color, especially Black men,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “As people across the country protest racial injustices, there’s even greater urgency for Congress to seize this historic opportunity and finally align our cannabis laws with what the majority of Americans support, while ensuring restorative justice.”

Even if the bill passes in the House, its chances of passage in the Republican-controlled Senate are slim. The SAFE Banking Act, the first-ever standalone cannabis legislation to receive a House vote, in September of 2019, has been stalled in the Senate Banking committee since last year.

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