Politics

House Passes MORE Act, Would Legalize Marijuana

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Henry Rodgers Senior Congressional Correspondent
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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that would legalize marijuana and expunge prior criminal convictions related to marijuana.

The Democratic-controlled House voted 228-164 to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, introduced by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in 2019, which would remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate criminal charges for anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”

According to a summary of the bill, this is what the MORE Act would do if turned into law:

  • Replaces statutory references to marijuana and marihuana with cannabis,
  • Requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
  • Establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
  • Imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,
  • Makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
  • Prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
  • Prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction), and
  • Establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks after President-elect Joe Biden introduced key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre on November 24, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

If Democrats regain a majority in the Senate, the legislation has a real shot at becoming law under a Biden-Harris administration. (RELATED: ‘Proven Successful’: Pelosi Wants Marijuana Banking Access Included In New Coronavirus Bill)

The government is facing a shutdown on Dec. 11. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced in late November that “members are encouraged to remain in Washington. As conversations surrounding legislation related to government funding, coronavirus relief, and NDAA are ongoing, these bills will be considered by House as soon as they are ready.”