Four Reasons Why The MORE Act Vote Is A Really Big Deal

NORML anticipates the successful passage of the bill in the House

Members of the US House of Representatives are expected to vote later this month on The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act (a/k/a The MORE Act). Since its introduction last August, NORML has worked diligently to gain political support for the Act, which is now co-sponsored by nearly one-quarter of the US House.

While NORML anticipates the successful passage of the bill in the House, we also recognize that this vote is far from the end of this campaign. Nonetheless, the forthcoming House vote will mark an important and significant milestone in the history of marijuana law reform.

First, Some Context

To date, 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana and marijuana-infused products for medical purposes. Eleven of these states also permit marijuana possession by adults, and ten of them also regulate adult-use sales. Yet, to date, all of these state-level legalization policies are incongruous with federal law, which classifies the cannabis plant as a Schedule I criminal substance.

This state-federal conflict is problematic for a variety of reasons. For example, those who operate state-licensed marijuana establishments experience unnecessary fears and hardships as a result of this conflict – such as a lack of banking access, the failure to qualify for federal small business loans, and the lingering concern that one day their activities may be the target of a federal prosecution. Ultimately, only legislative action by the federal government can rectify this schizophrenic-like situation.

Of course, gaining Congressional approval for any legislation is a difficult task – over the past decade, fewer than three percent of bills or resolutions introduced in Congress were signed into law – and passing substantive marijuana reforms at the federal level is even more difficult. Nonetheless, passing legislation through Congress remains the most viable pathway for amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, so therefore it is the primary avenue that advocates must pursue.

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