As an increasing number of states have passed legislation decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana, the drug remains classified as an elevated Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law.
Amid escalating pressure to end that regulation altogether, the federal government took its first major step toward that end with the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who praised a successful House vote to not only decriminalize but legalize weed.
“End the devastating injustices”
The measure sailed through the Democratic Party-controlled chamber on the strength of a 228-164 vote, which even included a handful of Republican lawmakers.
Dubbed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement — or MORE — Act, Pelosi made it clear where she stood on the measure.
She praised Congress for taking a step that could reshape marijuana-related policy nationwide, calling it one of the “most important criminal justice bills” in the nation’s history.
“This momentous step helps end the devastating injustices of the criminalization of marijuana that have disproportionately impacted low-income communities and communities of color, and reflects the overwhelming will of the American people,” Pelosi wrote in an official statement.
The speaker went on to note that legalizing marijuana at the federal level would help create new opportunities for growth in the flourishing cannabis industry.
“Provide revenue and resources”
“This landmark legislation will also open the doors of opportunity for all people to participate in the growing cannabis industry and provide revenue and resources to communities to grow,” she said.
Furthermore, the MORE Act benefits many who have been in the criminal system for marijuana-related offenses.
The bill would erase nonviolent federal convictions and provide funding for states to do the same. It also creates various grant programs to assist those deemed to have been disproportionately impacted by the U.S. government’s long-running war on drugs.
Veterans would also reportedly be able to receive prescriptions for cannabis prescriptions as part of the Veterans Affairs system if the bill becomes law.
The latest federal action comes in the wake of last month’s election, in which several states voted in favor of some form of marijuana decriminalization. A total of 15 states and the District of Columbia now allow recreational use of the drug.