U.S. House Passes Legal Marijuana Bill for Second Time

marijuana leaf
Credit: Rex Medlen

For the second time, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, a bill that would end the federal prohibition on cannabis by removing it from the list of banned controlled substances. The bill is expected to face strong headwinds in the Senate, however.

The bill that passed the House with 220 “yea” votes to 204 “nay” votes would end the federal ban, but leave legalization up to the states. The legal marijuana industry generated $25 billion in sales last year, a 43 percent increase over 2020, and is expected to hit $65 billion in 2030, according to Forbes.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said this is an important issue because the majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal. He also said that he used to support tough-on-marijuana policies earlier in his political career. “I was a supporter of the war on drugs, I’ve been here a long time… but it’s not a gateway drug, I’ve been convinced of that,” said Hoyer. “Marijuana has been legalized in 40 percent of our states, and medical marijuana is legal in 36 states. This is not out of the ordinary, this is something Americans tells us is an appropriate thing to do.”

Cannabis is legal for adult-use in 19 states and for medical use in 36 states. This bill would end the federal ban, but leave legalization up to the states. The MORE Act is thought to have an uphill battle in the Senate. The last time the House passed the bill the Senate did not take it up to a vote.

There are also competing bills within the House. Nancy Mace, the freshman Representative from South Carolina’s coastal swing district spanning Charleston to Hilton Head, introduced the States Reform Act, a bill that would end the federal government’s 85-year prohibition on marijuana, last year. Her bill, the first comprehensive Republican version to end cannabis prohibition, is expected to have its own hearing in April. Mace voted no on the MORE Act.