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For as long as the War on Drugs has been federal policy, activists have been pushing for the day that federal representatives and lawmakers revisit whether the prohibition of cannabis is a rational policy or not. Lawmakers have proposed bills that never made it anywhere; activists have filed lawsuits repeatedly only to get ignored despite very valid claims. States began to legalize in violation of federal policy, which has created a lot of pressure for the federal legislature.
Now, it looks like lawmakers may soon finally have a chance to vote on removing cannabis from the schedule of Controlled Substances, with important committee reviews before the end of November. However, thanks to a lot of other stuff going on in our government, this very exciting news hasn’t received much attention from the mainstream media.
On Wednesday, November 20th, 2019 the Judiciary Committee will review HR 3884. This act, known as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, has bipartisan support. The goal of the bill is to remove cannabis entirely from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively ending federal prohibition. States selling cannabis will have to collect a 5% federal tax.
The bill also addresses several needs or concerns about federal cannabis policy, such as the ability of veterans with serious conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder to use medical cannabis while still receiving benefits. Other provisions in the MORE Act will encourage states to expunge previous cannabis convictions and encourage the legal development of the cannabis industry, as well as eliminating cannabis as a reason to deny someone immigration to the United States.
Even if your representative is not on the Judiciary Committee, now is the time to start reaching out to your federal lawmakers to let them know that you expect them to vote in support of the MORE Act. While descheduling may be a less complete solution to prohibition than federal recognition of a legal cannabis marketplace, removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act will eventually lead to better cannabis practices across the country.
There will be many steps between the Judiciary Committee and a change in federal drug policy, but the fact that federal lawmakers may have the opportunity to vote on ending the war on cannabis in the near future is very promising and an indicator of just how far legalization and rational drug policy have come in recent years.
For previous Ladybud articles about federal law reform, click here.