In a big step toward bringing federal regulations in line with state rules, US senators are set to vote on Friday to decriminalize marijuana across the country, abolishing penalties for distributing or having the drug.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would eliminate marijuana’s classification as a hazardous restricted drug, like heroin and cocaine, under federal laws that impose harsh penalties.
The Trump administration is out of step with three-quarters of the states that have legalized marijuana for medical use and a third, such as Colorado and Washington, that have also made it legal for recreational use.
If states are democracy’s laboratories, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, one of the bill’s authors, stated, “it is long past time for the federal government to recognize that this experiment in legalization has been a resounding success.”
Analysts believe the bill would pass the House, but are less optimistic about its chances in the Senate, where Democrats would need the votes of ten Republicans to overcome a 60-vote threshold.
It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in America, Leafly says, with sales expected to reach $25 billion in 2021 and $40.5 billion by 2025. This is based on the site’s predictions.
According to a report released in February by the Seattle-based firm, the licensed cannabis business employs over 400,000 Americans and generated 280 new jobs per day last year.
One billion dollars in tax money came from California in the first two years after it started letting people use marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018. It was the first state to do this in 1996.
However, it is still unlawful under federal law, posing considerable challenges for enterprises that are unable to obtain financial services like loans or open bank accounts.
Massive public support
According to the law, the MORE Act would provide loans to small firms “owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”
Many people who were caught for marijuana possession would have their records wiped, and those who were imprisoned for federal marijuana offenses would have their sentences reviewed.
A federal tax would start at 5%, with proceeds going to substance abuse treatment and legal advice for the largely black communities that have been devastated by the drug war.
The reform has a lot of support in the United States. Last year, a Pew Research poll indicated that 91 percent of adults believed marijuana should be legalized for medical, recreational, or both purposes.
Republicans, on the other hand, say that decriminalizing drugs will lead to more use and more work for the Treasury Department.
In 2020, a similar bill passed the House on a mostly party-line vote, but it didn’t get very far in the Republican-run Senate.
“Republicans have a good chance of taking control of the House next year. This debate will provide an opportunity to see how many people support legalization despite their opposition to the MORE Act. ” According to a note published by Bloomberg last week by Cowen analyst Jaret Seiberg,
This is especially important if Republicans take control of the House but Democrats keep control of the Senate. It would imply that cannabis legislation would be on the table next year. “
In the Senate, there are signs that support for legalization is growing. Last week, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill that would have made it easier to study marijuana.
According to Democratic co-sponsor Dianne Feinstein, “current restrictions and regulations make it difficult for academics to explore how marijuana and marijuana-derived pharmaceuticals can best be used to treat specific diseases.”