U.S. House Vote on Ending the Federal Prohibition on Cannabis Is Expected This Week

A U.S. House bill which would decriminalize cannabis and end its prohibition at the federal level will come before the House membership this week, likely some time between Wednesday and Friday.
Joan Oleck
Written by Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist
Last Updated
Legal Cannabis

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, (H.R. 3884) commonly known as the MORE Act, and sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, would give the states the right to decide their own cannabis policies.

“This floor vote represents the first Congressional roll call ever on the question of ending federal marijuana criminalization,” Justin Strekal, the political director of the activist group NORML, said in a statement, “By advancing the MORE Act, the House of Representatives sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book on marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens.”

“We expect the House to pass the bill and by doing so, it sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens”, added Strekel.

The proposed law, whose Senate companion bill (S. 2227) has Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as its chief sponsor, would also: facilitate the expungement of low-level marijuana convictions and incentivize state and local governments to do the same; encourage ownership opportunities in the cannabis industry for diversity via Small Business Administration grant eligibility; allow veterans to obtain cannabis recommendations from the Veterans Administration; halt threats of deportation to immigrants accused of low-level marijuana offenses; and provide investment grant opportunities for communities that have experienced disproportionate rates of marijuana-related enforcement.

Whether the House membership will support the MORE Act is unclear – such action would be unlikely in the Republican-controlled Senate. But what’s interesting is the impact of Senator Harris’s imminent elevation to vice president. In a recent documentary Smoke: Marijuana + Black America, aired on BET, Harris – in an interview conducted before she became Joe Biden’s VP pick – openly expressed her support for federal legalization.

That support was based on what activists describe as clear racial discrimination about who gets arrested and ends up serving long sentences in prison for minor marijuana defenses. Research supports this. The American Civil Liberties Union has determined that Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis crimes than white Americans.

The expected House vote may also reflect widening acceptance of legalization: Four states legalized recreational cannabis in the recent national election; and according to Gallup polling, 67 percent of adult Americans (83 percent Democrats/48 percent Republicans) say they would support such a move.

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Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as Forbes.com, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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