Federal Decriminalization: One Step Closer to Federal Legalization

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With all that's happening recently on the campaign trail.  We thought we'd take a moment to address Federal marijuana legalization.  First things first, marijuana first has to be decriminalized, and that idea has been getting more than a little traction recently. In November 2019, there was a big victory when the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, known among its supporters as the MORE act, passed through the House Judiciary Committee with a 24-10 vote. This success is an essential step in the process of finally ending cannabis being illegal on the federal level and does a lot MORE besides. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves).

What Does The MORE Act Do?

The first thing it does is remove marijuana from the list of schedule 1 substances that make it impossible to legalize on a federal level. Cannabis currently shares this rating with heroin, LSD, cocaine, and other powerful and often life-threatening drugs. More than that, it also overturns past injustices. It expunges convictions for those who have committed marijuana-related offenses in the past. It also creates a 5% tax on sales of marijuana to help minorities, those most affected by marijuana’s legal status, start businesses related to cannabis. This legislation is notable since it is the first time that congress has ever backed efforts for federal decriminalization.

It Passed The House, What’s Next?

While passing the House by such a large margin is a victory in itself, it’s just the first step on the road to decriminalized marijuana. Various committees in the House have to agree on the contents of the MORE act and debate its merits before it can move into law. Even more importantly, it has to pass through the snake pit that is the Republican Senate, where it will likely wind up being dead on arrival. This truth is one of the perils of pushing a bill that doesn’t have bipartisan support.

All hope isn’t lost, however. Many feel that while the bill won’t be accepted as is, that the Senate may very well be willing to take it up and talk about it rather than merely dismiss it. There is also some support from the presidential seat. Trump indicated that he intended to support those states that have legalized in spite of the official Federal position in 2018. There remains a lot of rhetoric to cut our way through before this finally passes, and cannabis regains its once legal and accepted position.

In spite of change happening slowly at the federal level, at the state level, things are looking much more hopeful. Every year it seems more and more states are jumping on the legalization bandwagon, meaning there will be fewer representatives that have any solid reason not to see legalization pushed to the federal level. The current position means that trade across state-lines is dicey to impossible, something that interferes with commerce involving cannabis. Once we see cannabis playing a more significant role in the American economy, we can hope that the laws will go where the money is and let us all finally get high in peace.

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