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House Bill Would Legalize Cannabis At Federal Level

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House Bill Would Legalize Cannabis At Federal Level

House Bill Would Legalize Cannabis At Federal Level
November 26
19:30 2019

In a move with sweeping consequences, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved a bill on November 20, 2019, that would legalize cannabis at the federal level, superseding all state laws. Currently, only 10 states and the District of Columbia have full legalization laws regarding marijuana cultivation, sales, possession, and use.

Under the proposed legislation, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, pot would be declassified as a Schedule 1 narcotic (on a par with heroin) of the Controlled Substances Act.

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MORE was introduced on July 23, by U.S. House judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). Nadler controls which cannabis reform bills with a judiciary component advance to the full chamber.

Legalization of marijuana is lifting or abolishing laws that ban the possession and personal use of the plant and lets the government regulate and tax its use and sales. Decriminalization, on the other hand, loosens criminal penalties for personal marijuana use, while manufacturing and selling it remain illegal.

The cannabis reform bill breezed through the House in an unprecedented and historic vote, passing 24 to 10. Insiders believe getting the Senate to agree may be challenging since Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is against legalizing marijuana. However, with 234 congressional seats occupied by Democrats, many observers forecast a bright future for this law’s acceptance. (Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators.)

Significantly, the law would apply retroactively to prior and pending convictions and require federal courts to expunge (remove from the record) prior convictions. Courts would have to conduct re-sentencing hearings, on motion, for defendants still under supervision.

States would be allowed to establish their own policies on cannabis use.

<https://www.harris.senate.gov/news/press-releases/harris-nadler-introduce-comprehensive-marijuana-reform-legislation> Sen. Harris</a> affirmed one of the bill’s two purposes, to keep up with current events and stop making criminals out of Americans for using a plant – a weed, no less – that provides proven medical benefits:

“Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime. We need to start regulating marijuana and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives. As marijuana becomes legal across the country, we must make sure everyone — especially communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs — has a real opportunity to participate in this growing industry. I am thrilled to work with Chairman Nadler on this timely and important step toward racial and economic justice.”

Nadler spoke out about the national need to stop victimizing “communities of color” whose ethnic-minority residents make up the majority of inmates:

“Despite the legalization of marijuana in states across the country, those with criminal convictions for marijuana still face second class citizenship. Their vote, access to education, employment, and housing are all negatively impacted. Racially motivated enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionally impacted communities of color. It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior.”

The budding U.S. cannabis industry is bound to get a big boost from federal sanction to treat the native weed like the commodity it is. States that have turned criminal punishment into corporate profits are turning their economies around in short order.

MORE would impose a 5 percent cannabis sales tax to be collected in an Opportunity Trust Fund. The tax revenue would be dedicated to small-business loans and other programs that assist those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

Three grant programs would disburse the tax funds:

  1. The Community Reinvestment Grant Program would provide services to the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, including job training, re-entry services, legal aid, literacy programs, youth recreation, mentoring, and substance use treatment.
  2. The Cannabis Opportunity Grant Program would provide funds for loans to assist small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  3. The Equitable Licensing Grant Program would provide funds for programs that reduce barriers to marijuana licensing and employment for the individuals most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.

MORE would also allow the Small Business Administration to fund legitimate cannabis-related businesses and service providers.

<https://mjbizdaily.com/us-house-judiciary-chair-introduces-sweeping-marijuana-reform-bill/> Neal Levine</a>, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation called the bill “historic” and beat the money drum:

“There are thousands of state-regulated cannabis businesses operating around the country, employing hundreds of thousands of workers and generating billions of dollars in tax revenues.”

MORE goes even further, though. It would prohibit any federal public benefit from being denied due to the use or possession of marijuana or prior conviction for a related offense. Likewise, the use, possession or prior conviction involving pot would have no adverse impact under immigration statutes.

The marijuana reform bill will go next to the full House for a vote, then to the Senate for approval. If MORE passes both chambers, the bill would require President Trump’s signature to become the law of the land.

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1 Comment

  1. PalomarJack
    PalomarJack December 01, 17:40

    Most of the public high schools in California stink with the smell of burning pot. You want this nation wide, now?

    Reply to this comment

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