US Congress expected to vote on decriminalizing marijuana at federal level in December

WASHINGTON (WZTV) — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote in December on legislation that would decriminalize marijuana.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD-5) issued an update on the status of House bills last week, stating he expects a vote on the bill to come next month.

The vote will be taken on the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019,” otherwise known as the MORE Act of 2019. The bill is sponsored by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY-10) in the House.

Under the bill, marijuana would be removed from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and criminal penalties for those who manufacture, distribute, or possess marijuana would be eliminated.

In addition, the bill would impose a 5% tax on cannabis products to be deposited in a trust fund which would support various programs to communities impacted by the war on drugs. Among other actions, it would also expunge convictions related to federal cannabis offenses.

The House version has 118 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY-3).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also created a message form for those who support the bill to contact their local representative. The organization says passage of the bill would help end racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates.

Several states voted to enact marijuana reform during the November 3rd election, passing laws which ranged from allowing recreational use to legalizing medical use.