The United States House of Representatives has once again passed a bill that decriminalizes cannabis, expunges past convictions and evaluates a potential pot sales tax.
On Friday, lawmakers of the House passed with a 220-204 vote the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act which some advocacy groups call the most far-reaching cannabis reform bill in Congress.
House Resolution 3617 removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and prioritizes equity and justice by setting a process for expunging convictions and conducting sentencing review hearings related to cannabis offences.
But this is not the first time the decriminalization bill has been approved by the House.
In 2019, the bill was introduced by Kamala Harris during her time as a senator along with Senator Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren which passed in the House but failed to be voted by the Senate.
The resolution also mandates that the Government Accountability Office studies the societal impact of cannabis legalization and establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs.
H.R.3617 authorizes the assessment of a 5-per-cent tax on cannabis sales to create the Opportunity Trust Fund for three grants aimed to help communities affected by the prohibition.
Last week, the bill was filed for discussion by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Majority leader Steny Hoyer. Before it becomes a law, the bill still needs to be reviewed by Senate committees, passed by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden.
Advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance said in a statement on Friday that this is one step closer to ending federal prohibition and seeking justice for communities that have suffered from cruel and racist enforcement.
DPA national affairs director Maritza Perez said that while the bill won’t erase the pain that millions of people have experienced, it would restore the economic, educational and career opportunities they have been deprived of.
“The passage of the MORE Act does provide hope that a better future lies ahead – one where arrest records are wiped clean, new opportunities to take part in the legal marijuana industry exist and desperately needed resources are redirected back into the communities that have been most harmed,” she said.
Passage of the #MOREAct provides hope that a better future lies ahead – one where arrest records are wiped clean, new opportunities to take part in the legal marijuana industry exist, & desperately needed resources are redirected back into the communities. https://t.co/CQ7rz27DTR pic.twitter.com/bSgilvC2x7
— Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyOrg) April 1, 2022
The Senate recently approved bill S.253 or the Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act which eases access to research for cannabis and its derivatives.
In July last year, senator Cory Booker along with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Senate finance committee Chairman Ron Wyden released another Senate proposal for legalization, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.
The draft bill aims to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances and allow states to implement their own weed laws, similar to alcohol. Like tobacco, the cannabis market would be regulated and taxed without fear of federal interference, and weed businesses would be able to access financial services like any other industry.