Congress is moving forward with a plan to vote on legalizing marijuana. But even if the bill passes, it doesn’t mean that the substance will become legal in every state.
On Friday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn sent Democratic lawmakers an email asking them to indicate their support of the MORE Act by early September. That bill, which has passed the House Judiciary Committee with some bipartisan support, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and clear some criminal records related to the substance. Still, it would not automatically make the sale, distribution or purchase of marijuana legal in every state. That would still be up to each jurisdiction.
Since 1970, Cannabis has been considered a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That means the federal government views it as having a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit. Of course, such a classification runs counter to modern views on marijuana and is contrary to the facts. There is some evidence for its clinical value, particularly for pain relief.
Thirty-five states already allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. And 11 states have legalized it outright for recreational use among adults 21 and over. Plus, this November, four more states will determine, by public referendum, whether to legalize its use.
Still, as states move to make the substance legal, the federal government continues to view marijuana use as a crime, making enforcement tricky. The MORE Act would fix that, ending the national prohibition on the drug.
Furthermore, the bill would expunge the criminal record of those who have been penalized for non-violent marijuana offenses in the past. Additionally, it would create funding for grants to benefit people who have been negatively impacted by criminal enforcement. The social justice aspect of the bill has made it popular among Democratic members of the House of Representatives, as well as a handful of Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz and Rep. Tom McClintock, who both approved the bill in committee.
Will It Pass?
Neither chamber of Congress has ever voted on a measure to remove cannabis from the controlled substances list. In that respect, as it will be the first of its kind to come to a vote on the House floor, it would be an historic bill. Moreover, with support from Democratic leadership, it is likely that the House will pass the MORE Act.
Then there’s the Senate. There, it may have an uphill battle. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already expressed opposition. And at last week’s Republican National Convention, speakers pointed to the measure as proof that Democrats care more about cannabis than about everyday health. (Congress still has not been able to pass a second coronavirus relief package, though there are many members of government to blame for that).
And yet, if the bill does pass the House and makes it to the Senate, its leading advocate is likely to get a lot of attention. The lead sponsor of the MORE Act in the Senate is Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for Vice President.
Reprinted with permission from: https://werax.com/congress-to-vote-on-legalizing-marijuana/
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