The decriminalisation of cannabis at a federal level in the US moved a step closer last week after lawmakers introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 to Congress.
The act aims to strike marijuana from the list of controlled substances and invest in communities disproportionately affected by the so-called ‘war on drugs’. It would also eliminate criminal penalties, expunge records and create social equity programs focused on repairing the damage done to individuals and communities by prohibition.
The bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman and New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, who said: “Since I introduced the MORE Act last Congress, numerous states across the nation, including my home state of New York, have moved to legalise marijuana. Our federal laws must keep up with this pace.”
The House of Representatives voted to pass a version of the bill in December last year by a majority of 228 to 164, but it was left to languish in the Senate, which was still Republican-controlled at the time.
Both upper chambers of Congress are now controlled by the Democrats, and the MORE Act 2021 has support from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer among others.
However, with the Senate split 50:50 (vice president Kamala Harris has the casting vote), the bill will still require support from Republicans, who can use the power of the filibuster to block it should they choose to.