The House of Representatives decided to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act as the cannabis sector grows state by state.
The House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, decriminalizing marijuana and paving the door for nonviolent federal marijuana records to be deleted. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate.
The MORE Act also develops financing sources to reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, permits veterans to acquire medicinal cannabis prescriptions from Veterans Affairs doctors, and creates avenues for ownership opportunities in the emerging business.
The vote on Friday marked the first time a whole chamber of Congress took up decriminalizing cannabis on a federal level. It received five Republican votes in favour and 158 votes against. 222 Democrats voted in support of approving the MORE Act, while only six voted against it.
Before Friday’s vote, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., a co-sponsor of the MORE Act and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said, “It is the right thing to do.” “For far too long, the war on drugs has targeted young people, particularly Black people, while ignoring professional counsel.”
Blumenauer, whose congressional district includes sections of Portland, has been advocating for the repeal of marijuana prohibition since his days in the state legislature in the 1970s. He claimed that the drug war “never made any sense” to him and that it arose from President Richard Nixon’s “cynical” attitude toward marijuana and other prohibited substances.
Following the increase of recreational drugs in the 1960s, Nixon announced a “war on drugs” in the early 1970s, labelling drug usage “public enemy number one.” With strict enforcement and prison sentences, he hoped to curb use, distribution, and trade.
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Cannabis, unlike heroin and ecstasy, which are both Schedule 1 narcotics, is not addictive, according to Blumenauer, and it has been discovered to have medicinal benefits for pain management. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations have conducted studies that show marijuana can be addictive.)
He stated, “Public acceptance is at an all-time high.” “This is a concept that is long overdue.”
Last month’s election resulted in a significant win for cannabis. Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, and Mississippi voters supported propositions to legalize marijuana usage in some form. Now, recreational cannabis is legal in 15 states, two territories, and Washington, D.C., while medical marijuana is authorized in 34 states and two territories.
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who co-sponsored the measure with Blumenauer, said, “Discriminatory cannabis regulations have perpetuated yet another type of systemic racism in America for decades, and this legislation would begin the path of restorative justice for those most afflicted.”