The House voted to pass the MORE act on Friday, a piece of legislation that could effectively decriminalize marijuana on a federal level.
“The US House of Representatives—the people’s house—has taken a giant step towards science, reason and justice,” said to Benzinga cannabis activist and entrepreneur Steve DeAngelo.
This is the first time a cannabis legalization bill was treated in Congress. The bill will now head towards the Senate, where results remain uncertain.
Most industry voices believe that current Republican control of the upper chamber means doom for any cannabis legalization bill. However, upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia could shift the balance of power in the Senate at the beginning of January, showing light at the end of the tunnel for cannabis reform initiatives.
While the passage of the MORE Act by the House stands as an unprecedented milestone in the history of cannabis reform, a number activists and industry people have criticized the bill’s current version for its inability to bring restorative justice to those most affected by cannabis prohibition.
What Does the MORE Act Do?
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act would decriminalize marijuana on the federal level.
House Representatives approved H.R. 3884 with 228 positive votes, against 164 negative, with 39 abstentions.
“Today’s vote marks a historic victory for the marijuana policy reform movement. It indicates that federal lawmakers are finally listening to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are in favor of ending prohibition,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sponsored the bill, which removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances and eliminates criminal penalties for manufacture, distribution and possession of the plant and its derivatives.
The bill’s minor provisions include the expungement of convictions for federal marijuana-related offenses and a new 5% commercial cannabis tax poured into a fund meant to support communities most affected by the War on Drugs.
“Cannabis never belonged in …