The MORE Act vote date was originally proposed for a vote in September before it was postponed. Now the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote this December on the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act which would effectively legalize marijuana on a federal level by eliminating it from the Controlled Substances Act. The House Democratic leadership is preparing for a vote on the bill next month.
As well as legalizing marijuana on a federal level, the legislation will allow states to continue to choose how to regulate a commercial marijuana industry industry.
Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader, delivered a letter to colleagues outlining the legislative schedule for this upcoming November and December sessions. The letter stated that the House would vote on the bill but did not specify precisely which day in December. In December, the House is in session from the 1st to the 4th and the 7th to the 10th.
Hoyer stated, “The House will vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses which have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for loans and credit, and accessing opportunities which make it feasible to get ahead in our economy.”
There are still challenges to overcome if the MORE Act is approved. The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to take the bill up and a new Congress is set to convene in 2021. However with the new president elect, Joe Biden and vice president, Kamala Harris taking office, there has been strong recent evidence that democrats support marijuana decriminalization.
Initially scheduled for a September vote, some Democrats in close elections were concerned about voting on the MORE Act having concerns that voters might question the value of legalizing cannabis when Congress has yet to agree on a coronavirus aid package. However, in the November election, five additional states legalized recreational and/or medical marijuana. The initiative is continuing to gain steam and should continue to be a hot topic in 2021, especially as the U.S. economy looks for ways to rebound from the COVID pandemic.
Federal cannabis legalization could become a reality after the upcoming presidential election in November. Washington D.C. marijuana advocates are taking a hard look at what the post-legalization landscape would look like.
Many Washington D.C. trade institutions and nonprofits are predicting a bill to federally legalize cannabis could pass Congress in the near future if Joe Biden wins the presidential election and the democratic party controls the House and the Senate.
Randal Meyer, executive director of the International Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC), said “If the Democrats do a clean sweep, then descheduling with interstate commerce is absolutely within the realm of possibility.”
Descheduling would be the best case scenario for federal cannabis legalization and would have the following impact immediately:
Legalizae cannabis federally
End 280E taxation restrictions
Open banking accessibility
Permit for interstate and worldwide cannabis trade
Steven Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Descheduling unlocks everything else, such as banking, relief on 280E, everything, It’s a stone that kills three birds.”
Meyer, a former staffer in the office of Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, MORE Act “are the principal vehicle” if the Democrats do take the White House and the Senate, in part because it is already teed up in the House this year.
There are still many outcomes depending on how the upcoming elections pan out.
If, for example, Republicans retain control of the Senate or the White House, then the fallback strategy for several groups is to concentrate on piecemeal bills like the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act. That piece of legislation would allow financial institutions to deal with cannabis-related companies without fear of governmental punishment.
But if Democrats are the majority winners this November, following the presumed passage of the MORE Act or legislation near to it, would turn into the regulatory framework that supports federal cannabis legalization.
GACC issued a 66-page draft of a bill which “ends cannabis prohibition and generates an all-encompassing regulatory framework” that would make it possible for states to take the lead and allow the U.S. FDA and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to manage interstate cannabis trade.
After last nights mess of a presidential debate, which if you watched, you are probably now feeling less confident in either parties ability to lead the country through the troubling times ahead. The presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization is going to be a hot topic for the upcoming election and both sides need to tighten up their official stance so voters know exactly where they stand. Here is how they currently stand and a little background on their past.
Trump & Pence
The Republican candidates are tough to read in regards to this situation. The overall Republican stance on legalizing recreational marijuana has always been that cannabis is a gateway drug but could be used for medicinal purposes.
Sponsors for all the marijuana legalization bills in Congress tilt heavily toward Democrat congressmen, which is just another sign that this matter is the elephant in the room within the Republican House and Senate.
Trump said in a June, 2018, press conference standing outside his helicopter that he supported the STATES Act, currently with 65 cosponsors and among a handful of marijuana legalization bills in Congress, after previously stating that it had been an issue for states to determine.
Like many things Trump, how he’ll really come down about legalizing cannabis is still unknown, even though his long-time political consultant Roger Stone is an admitted marijuana user.
Some pundits speculate Trump will create an”October surprise” and legalize cannabis merely to garner a few more votes and interrupt the Democrats.
Biden & Harris
Joe Biden created an anti-cannabis perception while he was a Delaware senator from 1973 to 2009, supporting the war on drugs and sponsoring many bills in the late 1980s and during the 1990s. Among those bills he cosponsored was the infamous Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986, one of the important bills that resulted in racial injustice and disparities in arrests.
However, Biden has demonstrated a softening of his stance, saying on”ABC This Week” on August 23 that his government is “going to be certain we change the whole system in the manner in which we deal with criminal justice from punishment to rehabilitate. No one should be in jail because they are addicted to drugs. They ought to be going into mandatory drug treatment, that is why I set up drug courts.”
Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential running mate, Kamala Harris stated that the government will be taking a look at a policy that will be about decriminalizing marijuana.
Biden has said that he wishes to reschedule cannabis to Schedule 2, allowing cannabis to be available for medical research. That is about as close as he’s gotten to legalizing marijuana, but it is still far from his past war on drugs stance. His present position is in line with the Democrat platform: “Democrats will decriminalize marijuana usage and reschedule it through executive action on the national level. We’ll encourage legalization of medical marijuana, and think states should have the ability to create their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department shouldn’t establish federal prosecutions of conduct that’s legal in the state level. Past criminal convictions for marijuana should be automatically expunged.”
Harris takes a more aggressive stance on legalizing cannabis, and wishes to fully decriminalize and legalize both medical and recreational cannabis with the MORE Act which she introduced to Congress in July, 2019.
Where Do We Stand
So what happens based on the current presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization?
If Trump/Pence win in November, there will likely be no motion on legalization unless its labeled to a Republican version of social justice reform. The government may proceed with rescheduling it to permit medical research. Also, a Republican Senate majority will most likely continue to kill any cannabis legalization bills.
If Biden/Harris win in November, they will probably create a new cannabis legalization bill which will be a type of hybrid STATES Act combined with the MORE Act. Should they get a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, cannabis legalization might happen a bit faster state by state, even the whole country.
Both sides will need to eventually address what’s going on with cannabis around the nation particularly in light of bringing back economic stability. The marijuana industry is booming during COVID-19, and the two candidates need to cover the unbelievable revenue that the business is bringing in.
In November, New Jersey voters will be voting on legalizing adult use cannabis. recreational marijuana industry in New Jersey itself, with a population of almost 9 million people, would reach $850 million — $950 million in sales annually by 2024, according to a Marijuana Business Daily projection.
The cannabis industry is forecast to get $30 billion in sales by 2023–more than double the earnings in 2018, a figure which might vary by the end of the year based on customer demand.
These are all facts that can’t be ignored for either presidential candidates stance on marijuana legalization.
The Five States with Cannabis on the Ballot in November
First up is New Jersey, who came close in the past to legalizing recreational marijuana but with the general support at about 68% of polled voters, the legislation, strangely called Public Question 1, which is actually a state constitutional amendment legalizing the use, sale, possession and production of cannabis for anyone over 21 seems destined to pass.
Another state with a good chance of passing marijuana legalization is Arizona with Proposition 207. Similar legislation came to close in 2016 but came up just short with a little over 48% of the votes needed. The second time will surely be the charm as the public support for legalization of marijuana is over 60% of polled voters. The states plans to tack on some serious taxes, 16% in addition to regular sales tax so passage of this proposition will be a massive economic boost to the state.
Montana has a somewhat complex approach to the legalization process come November. The first constitutional amendment would set the age of use, sale and possession of marijuana at 21. The second initiative is much more specific, setting guidelines, taxes and most importantly, addresses those who have previously been convicted of marijuana related crimes. Whether Montana passes both the amendment and initiative is uncertain as public support there is hovering at 50%.
South Dakota will also be making its first attempt to pass marijuana legalization and is going big with both medical marijuana and recreational on the ballot separately. The medical marijuana legislation, Measure 26, is fairly narrow in terms of what conditions will be covered but has good support in a fairly conservative state. The Constitutional Amendment A which establishes the laws and general guidelines for recreational use does not have as much support but 2020 has never been predictable so it’s up to the voters in South Dakota to make the call.
Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the US is moving forward with a two part question style initiative regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. First voters in Mississippi will choose whether they generally support legalizing medical marijuana and regardless of how they answer that question, they will then be asked to choose either Initiative 65 or Alternative 65A. Initiative 65 is pretty broad in terms of what medical conditions it allows medical marijuana to be used to treat. It also includes a sales tax element. The much more limited Alternative 65A only allows medical marijuana to be used by terminally ill patients and requires heavy medical oversight. A very complicated way to put this important question to the voters or Mississippi but the true test will come in November.
Congress Delays MORE Act Vote until After November Election
The long anticipated vote that was scheduled to take place in the US House of Representatives this week has been delayed until after the November 3rd election. The path of the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act now faces an uncertain future.
Despite considerable bipartisan support in the House, the vote has been delayed because of more pressing legislation that Congress wants to take up before the election. There will be a vote on the MORE Act after November 3rd, when Congress returns for a lame duck session. Whether the considerable momentum this piece of legislation currently has will carry over into a post-election environment remains to be seen. The path forward for the MORE Act will depend heavily on the outcome of not just the presidential election in November but essentially all down ballot elections as well. It’s certainly possible for the legislation to fly through the House and end up in what may be a very different looking Senate next year.