The Hill

New Bill To Legalize Marijuana Nationwide Wins House Committee Vote

A new bill that would legalize marijuana use in all states in the U.S. has received its first approval in the House. Lawmakers aim to remove the drug from the list of Schedule I controlled substances, a category that includes heroin.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (MORE Act) contains measures aimed at reducing the impacts of the ongoing “War on Drugs” in the country. The bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and provide easier access to people nationwide. 

The approval came from members of the House Judiciary Committee. The decision marked the first time in history that a Congressional committee approved a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition, IFLScience reported.

“The war on drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, harmed job prospects and access to housing for our nation’s most vulnerable communities, and destroyed countless lives,” Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said in a press release. “The House Judiciary Committee’s decision to advance this bill is a significant step toward righting these wrongs and healing the wounds of decades of injustice.”

MORE Act would also include a 5 percent tax on marijuana sales in the country. The money would fund the recovery of communities affected by the drug war. 

Aside from easier access to the drug and as source of government funding, experts think legalizing marijuana use nationwide would also boost scientific research and medicine. 

“This groundbreaking legislation would eliminate barriers to cannabis research and provide access for patients throughout the entire country,” Debbie Churgai, interim director of Americans for Safe Access, said in a press release. “It is time our federal government steps up to provide relief so that patients everywhere can medicate without fear of losing any of their civil rights and protections, including while in federal housing or healthcare settings, such as hospices.”

MORE Act will now move to the House of Representatives for another vote. However, some officials have already expressed opposition. 

The Republican-controlled Senate is less likely to approve the marijuana bill, according to Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado.

Marijuana A rep demonstrates the JPAQ childproof marijuana joint case at the INDO EXPO cannabis trade show on January 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. A number of Democratic presidential candidates for the 2020 elections have expressed support for the nationwide legalization of marijuana. Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images