This historic vote is only the second time in more than 50 years that Congress has acted to repeal federal cannabis prohibition and to allow states to chart their own paths.
A majority of the US House of Representatives approved the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, or H.R. 3617, in a floor vote on Friday. The MORE Act removes marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby allowing states to legalize cannabis markets free from federal interference.
The Act also provides for the expungement or resentencing of those with nonviolent federal marijuana convictions, promotes diverse participation in the state-regulated cannabis industry, and helps repair the racially and economically disparate harms caused by America’s past prohibition policies. According to a just-released Congressional Budget Office analysis, passage of the Act would increase revenues by over $8 billion in ten years and would also significantly reduce federal prison costs.
“This vote is a clear indicator that Congress is finally listening to the vast majority of voters who are sick and tired of our failed marijuana criminalization policies and the damage they continue to inflict in communities across the nation every day,” said NORML’s Political Director Morgan Fox. “It is long overdue that we stop punishing adults for using a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol, and that we work to address the disparate negative impacts that prohibition has inflicted on our most vulnerable individuals and marginalized communities for nearly a century.
“The time has come for federal lawmakers to put aside partisan differences and recognize that state-level legalization policies are publicly popular, successful, and are in the best interests of our country. Now that the House has once again supported sensible and comprehensive cannabis policy reform, we strongly urge the Senate to move forward on this issue without delay.”
This legislation was previously approved in the House in December of 2020, but it did not receive a hearing in the Senate. This is only the second time in more than 50 years that a chamber of Congress has revisited the classification of cannabis as a federally prohibited substance.
NORML encourages lawmakers to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations in the 18 states that have regulated the adult-use cannabis market by reviewing the organization’s newest report: Marijuana Policies in Legal States: A Comprehensive Review of Adult-use Marijuana Rules and Regulations.