U.S. House Passes Marijuana Act, Senate Stall Expected

In a vote mostly along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives approved decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level on Friday. It’s the first time Congress has acted on the issue.

US Congress bldg
Credit: Louis Velazquez

The vote passed 228-164 with five Republicans and the lone independent member joined Democrats to pass the bill. Six Democrats voted no.

Branded as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) the bill removes marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. It also facilitates canceling low-level federal convictions and arrests related to marijuana.

The legislation is not expected to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, according to NPR.

The bill is a way for Democrats to send a message about their outlook on drugs in a nation where more cities and states already have become more accepting. It creates an excise tax on cannabis sales and directs the money to be targeted to communities adversely affected by the so-called war on drugs.

The bill specifically adds incentives for minority-owned businesses to help them enter the cannabis market, which has exploded in recent years given the relaxation in controls in some places within the United States.