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Voting on a landmark bill to lift the federal ban on cannabis will be postponed for a week, Steny Hoyer, the head of the majority in the house, announced Friday.
Hoyer, D-Md. He specifically listed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Destruction Act, or the MORE Act, among the business items when the House returns from Thanksgiving. Legislators are scheduled to debate and vote on the legislation on Thursday or next Friday.
The referendum follows a referendum in New Jersey and four other states where residents voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use. According to the November Gallup survey, a record 68% of American adults say marijuana should be legal.
“National support for the legalization of federal cannabis has always been high, and nearly 99% of Americans will soon live in states where there is some form of legal cannabis,” said Earl Blumenauer, a D-Ore MP for Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
“Congress must take advantage of this momentum and put an end to the failed policy of ban on our part, which has resulted in a long and shameful period of selective enforcement against color communities.”
This would be the first congressional vote to lift the ban on cannabis. Nevertheless, there is little chance that it will become law, as there is no indication that the Senate will vote on the bill before the law is postponed.
Marijuana is currently designed as a Class 1 controlled substance. Abolishing the so-called scheduling rating would allow states to legalize it, give banks the opportunity to offer credit cards and checking accounts to legal cannabis businesses, and make it easier to study any of the bank’s medical benefits.
The bill also requires federal courts to overturn marijuana convictions, tax weeds to help communities hardest hit by the war on drugs, fund labor force training, and provide loans to minority-owned small businesses wishing to enter the cannabis industry.
“With the advancement of MORE LAWS, the House of Representatives is sending an unequivocal signal that America is ready to end the book’s marijuana ban and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy will hit otherwise law-abiding citizens,” said Justin Strekal, political Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
“Americans are ready to responsibly legalize and regulate marijuana, and this vote shows that some lawmakers are finally listening.”
The bill was scheduled to be voted on ahead of the election, but Democratic House leaders have delayed it to avoid the optics of having a vote on cannabis before adopting a new coronavirus stimulus package.
The House Democrats lost several seats on November 3, although they retained a majority.
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Jonathan D. Salant available at [email protected].