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House Approves Bill for Federal Cannabis Decriminalization

Apr 5, 2022

On April 1, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of passing Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which would end federal cannabis prohibition and create opportunities for social equity in the market.

Introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the MORE act passed loosely across party lines, 220-204. The bill aims to federally decriminalize cannabis by removing its current classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic—the same class as heroin or LSD—as well as eliminate criminal penalties for individuals who grow, distribute, or possess it. Full recreational use and distribution would continue to be a decision left up to each state.

“For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health,” said Nadler in his opening statement. “Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the federal level has proven both unwise and unjust.”

Currently, 18 states as well as the District of Columbia have passed legislation for recreational distribution and consumption. Some states, notably New Jersey, have begun rolling out application processes for opening growing, processing, and most recently retail licenses for businesses that plan to handle cannabis directly.

The MORE Act had previously passed in the House in 2020, but never saw a vote in the Senate. And despite the bill passing through the House a second time, it has yet to face its biggest challenge with that same hurdle. The Senate is currently split 50/50, so the MORE Act would require a total of 60 votes to break the filibuster, if it’s even brought to the floor.

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