House Lawmakers Prepare to Vote This Month on Marijuana Descheduling Bill

Washington, DC: Members of the United States House of Representatives are expected to hold a floor vote later this month on legislation – The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act a/k/a The MORE Act — to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act. The vote would be the first time since the passage of the 1970 law, which placed cannabis in the same category as heroin as a Schedule I controlled substance, that a Congressional chamber has voted to remove marijuana from its prohibitive classification.

“Passage of The MORE Act is essential in order to truly right the wrongs of federal marijuana criminalization, and to once and for all allow the majority of states that have legalized cannabis for either medical or adult-use to embrace these policies free from the threat of undue federal prosecution or interference,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said.

Since the bill’s introduction last year, NORML has been a leader in the federal lobbying efforts in support of The MORE Act. To date, NORML members have sent over 120,000 messages to Congress in support of the Act’s passage.

Weeks ago, Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden selected California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate. Senator Harris is the lead sponsor of The MORE Act in the Senate. According to national polling data recently compiled by the Data for Progress think-tank, 62 percent of likely voters – including majorities of Democrats and Republicans – support passage of The MORE Act.

Last November, members of the House Judiciary Committee advanced the House version of The MORE Act, marking the first time in history that federal lawmakers have moved forward legislation to deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. NORML believes that comprehensive federal marijuana policy reform is only possible via descheduling marijuana rather than by rescheduling it. Just as alcohol is not included in the CSA, thereby leaving states to be the primary regulators of their own alcohol policies, NORML maintains that cannabis should similarly be descheduled.

The Act would also make several other important changes to federal policy. For example, it permits physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration for the first time to make medical marijuana recommendations to qualifying veterans who reside in legal states, and it incentivizes states to move ahead with expungement policies that will end the stigma and lost opportunities suffered by those with past, low-level cannabis convictions. If approved, The MORE Act also allows the Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurs and businesses as they seek to gain a foothold in this emerging industry.

“A House floor vote will put our federal lawmakers on record,” NORML’s Armentano said. “We will know who stands with the majority of Americans in supporting an end to the failed federal policy of marijuana prohibition, and equally importantly, we will know in Congress wishes to continue to threaten the freedom and liberty of the millions of Americans who reside in states that have enacted common-sense alternatives to cannabis criminalization.”

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director.