The US House of Representatives has voted to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE Act) and remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances by a majority of 228 to 164.
However, the fact the vote went mostly along party lines means it has little chance of passing through the Republican-controlled Senate, unless the Democrats can flip both seats in Georgia, where run-offs take place in January. Only five Republicans voted in favour of the bill.
In November’s elections, voters in New Jersey, Montana and Arizona voted to legalise recreational cannabis while Mississippi passed measures to approve medical use. Voters in South Dakota voted to legalise both medical and recreational cannabis at the same time.
That brings the total to 15 states plus the District of Columbia where marijuana is fully legal, with a further 12 states decriminalising it and allowing medical use. Only in six states does it remain completely illegal.
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.