US House Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Senate Vote to Follow

marijuana plant
Image: Crystalweed Cannabis/Unsplash

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana, which has caused legal issues for consumers and companies in states that have legalized it, although the legislation is expected to fail in the Senate.

It passed by a vote of 220-204, with just a few Republicans voting in favor, according to Reuters.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, introduced by New York Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, takes marijuana off the list of banned narcotics and removes criminal sanctions for those who cultivate, distribute, or possess it.

However, the MORE Act will require 60 votes in the Senate’s equally divided chamber to reach President Joe Biden’s cabinet for approval, a result largely seen as implausible given the measure’s lack of Republican votes.

Democratic Representative Ed Perlmutter stated on the House floor on Thursday prior to the vote that the bill will “end decades of failing and unfair marijuana prohibition.”

He went on to say that the measure does not mandate that any state legalize marijuana.

Marijuana consumers and companies in the United States confront a convoluted legal landscape, with 37 states legalizing it in some form — whether for recreational or medical purposes — and 13 states still outright prohibiting it.

Researchers are severely constrained in their ability to study cannabis and its effects due to federal law’s classification of the substance as an illicit narcotic with no medicinal applications, making the policy difficult to design.

Because of the federal ban, cannabis firms are mainly excluded from the financial system in the United States.

Marijuana legalization is exceedingly popular among Americans, with 90% agreeing that either medicinal or recreational use should be permitted, according to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2021.

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