Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 220-204 in favor of the MORE Act (HR 3617) that legalizes cannabis on the federal level.
This is the second time a vote has been taken on the MORE Act. On Dec, 4, 2020, it passed the House, 228-164.
In the 15 months since the 2020 vote, 40 more Republicans voted against MORE. Nine fewer Democrats supported it in 2022. Three Republicans voted in favor (including Rep. Matt Gaetz), two Democrats were against it.
The MORE Act - the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act - removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. It's main sponsor in the House is Rep Jerry Nadler. Vice president Kamala Harris sponsored MORE when she was a Senator. The bill likely will not receive 60 votes in the Senate if it gets to that point.
Rep. Jerry Nadler: "The hard work is how to get the Senate. I'm hopeful they will heed this call."
NORML issued the following statement: "This is a historic day for marijuana policy in the United States. This vote marks only the second time in over 50 years that a chamber of Congress has revisited the classification of cannabis as a federally controlled and prohibited substance, and has voted to close the widening chasm between state and federal marijuana policies."
It's always a big day when Congress votes in favor of cannabis. However, if the Democrats lose the House in the midterms, MORE will be replaced by moderate Republican efforts led by Rep. Dave Joyce and Rep. Nancy Mace.
Says NCIA executive director Aaron Smith: “Now is the time for the Senate to act on sensible reform legislation so that we can finally end the failure of prohibition and foster a well regulated marketplace for cannabis.”
Zoom MORE Press Conference
Rep. Nadler: "I'm proud we passed this long overdue legislation. It's been a long journey... States have led the way. It's time for the federal government to catch up and do what's right. We've been here before. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to act. The hard work is how to get the Senate. I'm hopeful they will heed this call."
Rep. Barbara Lee: "It's a milestone. This has been a long haul. This will be transformative for the lives of so many. This is a racial justice bill. Nine hundred and eighty people are arrested daily. This is unjust. Communities of color have been terrorized by draconian laws. This is about equity, restorative justice and expungement of colors. It's time to repair the damage of the past."
Rep. Earl Blumenauer: "This time is different. Last time it languished in the Senate. We now have three Senate champions: Senators Schumer, Booker and Wyden. They're leading the charge in the Senate. This is the blueprint. The MORE Act does it."
Lee and Blumenaur answered questions about Congressional Cannabis Caucus member Rep. Dave Joyce voting against MORE. "Caucuses have disagreements," Lee said. "We understand where Dave Joyce was coming from. The caucus is not in any jeopardy."
Blumenauer added: "I have profound respect for Dave Joyce. I appreciate his leadership and the fact he's evolved on this issie. He needs to evolve some more."
Blumenauer, Lee and Joyce are the only members of the caucus. Fourth member Rep. Don Young (R-AK) passed away on March 18. He has yet to be replaced.
On the question of Senate support for MORE, Blumenauer contended, "The issue has broad bipartisan support. There are numerous paths to take in the Senate."
Lee noted: The Senate cannot turn their backs on their constituents. I believe the Senate will come around on this."
Nadler was not so sanguine. "Sometimes I think we don't need the Senate," he quipped.