The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, or MORE Act, passed 24-10 after more than two hours of debate.
The bill would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, allow states to set their own marijuana policy and require federal courts to expunge prior convictions for marijuana offenses. A 5% tax on marijuana products would also establish a trust fund for programs designed to help people disproportionately impacted by the “war on drugs,” including job training and treatment for substance abuse.
“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of a matter of personal choice and public health. Whatever one’s views on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating users at the federal level is unwise and unjust,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in his opening statement.
Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association,” praised the proposal’s approval by saying it “marks a turning point for federal cannabis policy and is truly a sign that prohibition’s day is numbered.”
The Associated Press points out if the measure comes up for a vote in the full House, its chances are better in the Democratic-controlled chamber than in the Republican-held Senate, where the bill’s future is uncertain.
Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states and is legal for recreational use in 11 states, along with the District of Columbia.