Federal Cannabis Legalization Act Passes House

The United States House of Representatives has voted to pass an act that would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level.

On Friday, April 1, the House voted 220 to 204 to pass the MORE Act.

Friday marked the second time that the MORE Act has passed the House.

The bill, once again, faces the challenge of passing the Senate, where it died previously.

A Renewed Push for Cannabis Legalization

The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate penalties for anyone who possesses, distributes, or manufactures it.

The Act would also impose an excise tax on domestic and imported cannabis, an occupational tax on production facilities and export warehouses, and prohibit denial of federal benefits based on certain cannabis-related activities or convictions.

Additionally, the bill would replace all statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis.

The MORE Act would also create a path to expungement and sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis convictions.

Under the MORE Act, the Government Accountability Office would study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.

Representative John Larson says the House took a step forward to decriminalize cannabis and fix decades of social injustice.

“The MORE Act will expunge federal records of those harmed by cannabis criminalization,” says Larson. “People of color are four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges and are often targeted for longer prison sentences. This bill will change that and invest the tax revenue back into communities that have been disproportionately impacted. Additionally, with Connecticut legalizing cannabis last year, this would allow local small cannabis businesses in CT to access banks and other financial institutions.”

There’s MORE Work Ahead

In a statement, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC) Founding Chair Dasheeda Dawson says that, even though the MORE Act has passed in the House, there is more work than ever ahead.

Dawson says that, compared to its first historic passage in 2020, the margin of victory for Friday’s successful vote narrowed, signaling challenges in the Senate.

“More concerning, the remarks from the bill’s opposition, including representatives from mature legal states such as Oregon, focused heavily on stereotypical exaggerations of the illicit market as a cartal-led sinister entity,” says Dawson. “As part of a workgroup focused on federal legalization, CRCC has been vocal about the regulatory challenges at the state and local level, specifically addressing the negative community impact of law enforcement’s use of cannabis criminalization as a tool for oppressive, racially-biased over-policing. To that end, the MORE Act is aligned with our Principles of Governance and Policy, specifically in ending criminal penalties for the possession and use of cannabis.”

Dawson says public policies should reflect cannabis as an effective option for various health conditions, and protecting consumers from prosecution is the place to start.

According to Dawson, protecting consumers is essential, but it can’t rectify decades of harm caused by discriminatory cannabis criminalization.

“Ending the war on drugs also means adopting progressing and noncriminal regulatory strategies rather than relying on law enforcement,” says Dawson. “It’s clear that. Re-educating federal legislators and agencies will be critical to the country’s comprehensive reform. Until they understand the plant’s value and benefits, federal legalization will be a difficult hurdle.”