The chances of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act being passed in the US got a major boost overnight after the Democrats flipped the two seats they needed in Georgia to take control of the Senate.
In December, the House of Representatives passed legislation to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances by a majority of 228 to 164. But the fact the vote went mostly along party lines suggested it had little chance of passing through the then Republican-controlled Senate.
However, with both Democrat candidates winning their run-off elections in Georgia overnight, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris – the lead sponsor of the MORE Act in the Senate – will have the casting vote.
The MORE Act attempts to roll back the impact of the so-called war on drugs by expunging federal marijuana convictions dating back to 1971, and establishing a 5% tax on marijuana products to fund programs for those adversely affected by criminalisation.
Meanwhile, there was more good news for cannabis campaigners in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo said he wanted to legalise marijuana in the state in a bid to reduce its $US15 billion deficit, the largest in its history.
“This should have been passed years ago,” Cuomo said. “Too many people have been imprisoned, incarcerated, and punished. Too many of those people are Black, Latino, and poor. It’s exaggerated the injustice of the justice system.”
“This is the year we do need the funding and a lot of New Yorkers are struggling, so I think this year will give us the momentum to get it over the goal line,” he added.
On Tuesday, 19 New York lawmakers filed a marijuana legislation bill for the 2021 legislative session.