The fight to legalize marijuana at the federal level has been taken — once again — to the House floor to vote on as soon as next week.
In a report from Marijuana Moment, the House Rules Committee announced Thursday, Mar. 24, that it will hold a hearing regarding the bill on Monday, Mar. 28, which will mark the final step before consideration on the floor.
The bill, which was authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and titled “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act,” would remove cannabis from the list of federal controlled substances and eliminate criminal penalties associated with the drug.
A federal tax on marijuana sales would also be imposed in an effort to fund programs to help communities negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
In addition to that, the measure would further seek to establish a procedural process to expunge previous marijuana-related convictions.
“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only made it worse, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color,” Nadler said when the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill last fall.
In Dec. 2020, the House passed a version of this legislation, while six centrist Democrats voted against the bill and five Republicans backed it. The bill would not advance in the Senate because it was controlled by Republicans at the time and the vote occurred near the end of that session of Congress.
Some states have already moved to legalize marijuana in some form or another.
Currently, 37 U.S. states, four territories, and the District of Columbia allow cannabis products for medical use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eighteen states, two territories, and also the nation’s capital have enacted measures to permit cannabis for nonmedical use.
A key factor in moving marijuana legalization forward is thanks to the efforts by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who continues to push things forward despite GOP reluctance on the issue.
Schumer said as soon as April to lift the federal prohibition on cannabis.
“As majority leader, I can set priorities. This is a priority for me,” Schumer said at the time.