On November 20, the US House Judiciary Committee took a huge step toward ending the prohibition of marijuana when they voted to pass the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. True to its name, the legislation would not only remove cannabis from the federal controlled substances list (where it currently sits at schedule 1, among the most dangerous drugs with “no medicinal value”), but also expunge the records of thousands of Americans with marijuana convictions, as well as direct tax revenue toward communities most affected by the prohibition of marijuana. This is the first time in US history that the Judiciary has held such a successful vote, but it was not all smiles and handshakes within the committee. Passing 24-10, the vote was pretty much split down party lines, with only two Republicans voting in support of the bill. Many Republicans, it seems, would prefer to keep the status quo, or if they are in favor of change, they’d like to let individual states control cannabis policy without federal descheduling or expunging records.
This committee vote comes on the heels of a House vote to protect banks working with cannabis businesses, so it seems that the tides may be changing in the halls of our nation’s governing bodies. With several amendments suggested in committee, this historic vote paves the way for a full House vote. The Senate may be a different story, but here’s hoping our elected officials can come to a compromise without diluting the bill’s important social equity and criminal justice aspects.