Washington, DC: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has indicated that members will vote on legislation descheduling marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in December. Members of Congress were initially scheduled to vote on the measure, The Marijuana, Opportunities, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in September, but it was postponed because of ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate over a COVID economic stimulus package.
“The House committing to hold this vote this year on the MORE Act will send a clear message that the time is now to end the failed and cruel policy of marijuana criminalization,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Americans have spoken loudly and clearly at the ballot box time and time again over the last 24 years that they are supportive of marijuana policy reform and the public deserves to know where their lawmakers stand.”
Representative Hoyer provided a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to members outlining priorities for the final weeks of the 116th Congress. He wrote, “[I]n December, … the House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy.”
Currently, the MORE Act has 118 cosponsors. The MORE Act removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act — thus providing individual states with the authority to be the primary arbiters of cannabis policy and eliminating the existing conflict between state-level marijuana legalization policies and federal law.
The MORE Act would also make several other important changes to federal marijuana policy. For example, it permits physicians affiliated with the Veterans Administration for the first time to make medical cannabis 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. 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.
In a separate ‘Dear Colleague’ letter issued by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), the duo wrote: “The recent success of cannabis reform in states around the country should give us a new sense of urgency to ensure Congress catches up with the American people. … As we head into the lame-duck session, we must remember the promise we made to the American people to pass the MORE Act.”
National polling finds that majorities of Democrat voters and Republican voters support the Act’s passage.
For more information, see NORML’s Take Action Center.