U.S. House approves monumental federal cannabis legalization bill


On Friday, April 1, the U.S. House of Congress passed legislation to legalize cannabis nationwide. 

The federal cannabis legalization milestone aims to remove criminal penalties for individuals who distribute, manufacture or possess the green plant.

Titled, “the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act” (The MORE Act,) the bill gained some traction when the House passed it last year. Unfortunately, it stumbled and fell flat in the Senate.

This time around, the measure gained lawmaker approval with a vote of 220-204 vote. 

About the newly passed federal cannabis legislation

Aside from federally decriminalizing cannabis, the MORE Act implements a procedural strategy for former cannabis convicts to have their records wiped clean. Additionally, the legislation would impose a tax on cannabis product sales.

Cannabis taxes would start at five percent, before gradually rising to eight percent. All funds generated from the tax would be used to support job training, substance use treatment programs, mentoring, youth recreation assistance, society re-entry programs and legal aid.

Moreover, the legislation would provide small businesses with adequate funding to compete in the U.S. cannabis industry. However, those businesses must be “owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals,” according to an excerpt from the bill.

“This landmark legislation is one of the most important criminal justice reform bills in recent history,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. told reporters on the floor the day before its passing.

House approves bipartisan cannabis research measure to allow the studying of dispensary products

Just days after the federal cannabis legalization vote, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan cannabis research bill designed to simplify investigations into the plant.

Titled, “The Medical Marijuana Research Act,” the measure is sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).

Interestingly, Harris is a self-proclaimed cannabis proponent, whereas Blumenauer is quite the opposite.

“The cannabis laws in this country are broken, including those that deal with the medical research of cannabis,” Blumenauer is quoted as saying in a press release. “America’s growing cannabis industry operates without the benefit of a robust research program. Instead, we are outsourcing research to Israel, the United Kingdom, and Canada to our detriment.”

A chunk of the bill, which gained House approval with a vote of 343-75, focuses on allowing scientists to access cannabis products from state-legal dispensaries.

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), noted that the country has “seen dramatic changes in the legal status of cannabis at the state level, my state included.”

“It is high time we modernize our nation’s federal regulations to facilitate legitimate medical research into the impacts of cannabis,” the congresswoman expressed to reporters as she considered the fact that the federal guidelines for carrying out cannabis research is “decades old* and “has not kept pace with these changes.”

Fellow cosponsor Morgan Griffith (R-VA) agreed. 

“[They have] joined forces to advocate for more research on the use of cannabis products to treat medical conditions,” Griffith added.