The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on whether to federally decriminalize marijuana this week — an action that would be the biggest move toward marijuana legalization ever taken by Congress.
According to a notice posted by the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, the vote for the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, HR 3884, should come between Wednesday, Dec. 2 and Friday, Dec. 14.
"This floor vote represents the first Congressional roll call ever on the question of ending federal marijuana criminalization," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said in a statement. "By advancing the MORE Act, the House of Representatives sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens."
He added, "Americans are ready to responsibly legalize and regulate marijuana, and this vote shows some lawmakers are finally listening."
The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge some criminal records, allow for more testing and research of the substance, allow veterans for the first time to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from their VA doctors, remove the threat of deportation for immigrants accused of minor marijuana infractions or who are gainfully employed in the state-legal cannabis industry, and create funding for people and communities impacted by the War on Drugs.
According to an October poll from Gallup, marijuana legalization has wide support. Overall, 68% of respondents said they supported it, compared to 32% who did not. Those who support it include 83% Democrats, and 72% of independents. Just 48% of Republicans support it, according to the poll.
The MORE Act was sponsored by Senator and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that he supports cannabis decriminalization but has come short of calling for it to be legalized.
In November's general election, 15 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and another 16 have decriminalized it.
This story was originally published by CityBeat's sister paper Detroit Metro Times