By Roland Sebestyén
Following the approval of legislation passed by a key committee of the United States House of Representatives, the US is now one step closer to ending cannabis prohibition.
According to NJ.com, The House Judiciary Committee approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (known commonly as the MORE Act) to change cannabis’ classification and remove its classification as a Class 1 drug.
Committee chair Jerrold Nadler said: “This long overdue and historic legislation would reverse failed federal policies criminalising marijuana.
“In my view, criminal penalties for marijuana offences, and the resulting collateral consequences, are unjust and harmful to our society. The MORE Act comprehensively addresses this injustice.”
While some opposed the proposition, two Republican committee members admitted that the United States has lost the so-called war on drugs.
The MORE Act, as NJ.com reports, would impose a federal tax on marijuana to “fund job training, drug treatment and literary programs, loans to small cannabis businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, and programs to help those hardest hit by the war on drugs to enter the marijuana industry.”
The Act would also require federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions – a significant change in policy in a country where hundreds of thousands are serving prison time cannabis-related convictions.
Steven Hawkins, chief executive of the U.S. Cannabis Council, added: “The negative impacts of cannabis prohibition are far-reaching and longstanding.
“Real change requires new laws that impact everything from criminal justice and racial equity to taxation and banking.”
However, it is, as yet, too early to celebrate. NJ.com reports that while the House approved the legislation back in 2020, the bill never came up in the Senate.
Now, the measures will be sent to the House floor for a second time. The Senate is now controlled by the Democrats, who have been openly working on a new federal cannabis policy for a while.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, alongside Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced a draft bill in July that would eventually legalise recreational cannabis at the federal level.
Despite campaign claims made by Vice President Kamala Harris that, if elected, President Biden would decriminalise cannabis, Mr Biden is reportedly against legalisation – it is a real concern that he could veto the bill at the last minute.