A comprehensive federal marijuana reform bill will face its next obstacle when it goes before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Wednesday.
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act seeks to decriminalize cannabis use across the U.S. In November 2019 it gained approval from the House Judiciary Committee in a landmark 24-10 vote.
That marked the first time a proposed marijuana law had ever passed out of a Congressional committee, sparking optimism among legalization activists.
Now the MORE Act will go before a new panel at a legislative hearing hosted by the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
“As public opinion continues to evolve and cannabis policies change at all levels of government, it’s important to bring federal agency officials together to discuss current and future federal cannabis policies,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo in a joint statement.
They said they are particularly keen on examining the implications of changing the schedule listing of marijuana, along with the potential of cannabis research and a review of CBD products. The hearing has been named “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade.”
This week it also emerged that the House Small Business Committee has decided to waive jurisdiction over the MORE Act. That means it is a case of two House committees down and five to go for the bill, so proponents of decriminalization will be pleased to see the House Energy and Commerce Committee maintaining the momentum by examining it.
The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and give states an incentive to expunge the criminal records of all Americans convicted of low-level marijuana offenses. It also plans to reimburse Americans that were adversely impacted by the war on drugs.
The House Energy and Commerce is seen as a significant hurdle for the bill, because it contains very few sponsors of the MORE Act. If it enjoys success at Wednesday’s meeting it would spell great news for anyone that wants to see the U.S. liberalize its approach to marijuana.
Skeptics are being won over. This week Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who formerly opposed a more liberal approach to marijuana, has now signed on to the MORE Act, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 67.