Watch Live: Key House Committee Prepares Marijuana Legalization Bill For Floor Vote - Grow Life 420

Watch Live: Key House Committee Prepares Marijuana Legalization Bill For Floor Vote

December 02, 2020

#KahliBuds #MMJ #CBD #THC

A key House committee is taking up a bill to federally legalize marijuana on Wednesday, likely clearing its path to a floor vote that leadership said will come on Friday.

The House Rules Committee will determine which filed amendments to the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act can be made in order for floor consideration. It’s the last step before the bill is taken up by the full chamber, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said in a briefing with reporters that it will start with debate on Thursday, a day ahead of the final vote.

The bill’s consideration is a historic development for cannabis reform advocates. If the Democratic-controlled House ultimately approves the legislation, it would mark the first time that a chamber of Congress voted not just to protect state marijuana programs from federal interference but to formally deschedule the plant.

Watch the Rules Committee hearing on the MORE Act below:

After Hoyer announced that the body would take up the MORE Act this week, the Rules Committee placed a revised version of the legislation, transmitted by its sponsor, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), on its schedule.

While most the changes included in the Rules Committee Print are technical in nature, one significant revision concerns the proposed tax structure for cannabis sales outlined in the bill.

As originally drafted, the legislation would have imposed a five percent tax on marijuana products, revenue from which would be used in part to fund a grant program to support communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. In the most recent version, that language was removed and replaced with text that more closely reflects a separate descheduling bill, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act.

The modified tax provisions of the MORE Act would make it so cannabis would be federally taxed at five percent for the first two years after implementation and then increased by one percent each year until reaching eight percent. After five years, taxes would be applied to marijuana products based on weight rather than price.

Nadler also placed a separate amendment before the committee stipulating that the heads of the Transportation Department and Coast Guard may continue to include marijuana in drug testing programs for safety-sensitive positions. It also clarifies that the bill’s expungement provisions only apply to “non-violent marijuana offenders” and bars so-called “kingpins” from obtaining expungements. Finally, the amendment from the Judiciary Committee chairman would direct the federal government to study the use of marijuana by military veterans.

Several other lawmakers also submitted amendments that could be made in order during Wednesday’s meeting.

An amendment filed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) would delete provisions creating programs that provide grants for restorative justice and community reinvestment, as well as a new Cannabis Justice Office in the Department of Justice. It would also eliminate a requirement to collect data on diversity within the cannabis industry. Gaetz is the only GOP House cosponsor of the MORE Act—and while he said this summer that he would be supporting it, he challenged these components.

An amendment from Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) would strike the entire bill and replace it with language that still deschedules cannabis and prohibits discrimination against marijuana consumers and businesses  However, it would remove the creation of a federal cannabis tax and the programs its revenue would fund.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced an amendment that would broaden the types of expenses covered by a provision providing waivers for cannabis business license application fees.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) proposed an amendment to delay the enactment of federal marijuana descheduling and other reforms until the Department of Transportation develops “best practices for the recognition and testing of drivers impaired by marijuana.”

Overall, the MORE Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and expunge the records of those with prior marijuana convictions. The descheduling provisions would be retroactive.

The bill would also create a pathway for resentencing for those incarcerated for marijuana offenses, as well as protect immigrants from being denied citizenship over cannabis and prevent federal agencies from denying public benefits or security clearances due to its use.

A new Cannabis Justice Office under the Justice Department would be responsible for distributing funds providing loans for small cannabis businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The bill also seeks to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry.

While the bill still calls for the establishment of a Community Reinvestment Grant Program, the revised version Nadler filed would remove a line calling for it to specifically fund “services to address any collateral consequences that individuals or communities face as a result of the War on Drugs.”

Tax dollars appropriated to that program would instead more generally go to job training, legal aid for criminal and civil cases such as those concerning marijuana-related expungements, literacy programs and youth recreation and mentoring services, among other programs.

Advocates are optimistic about this latest development and the likely House vote, but it should be noted that its prospects in the GOP-controlled Senate this session are dim. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a champion of the hemp industry but staunchly opposes further marijuana reform.

That said, a symbolic vote for legalization could send a strong signal to the incoming Biden administration.

Given Biden’s former approach to championing punitive anti-drug legislation as a senator and his ongoing obstinance on marijuana legalization at a time when polls show that a clear majority of Americans favor the policy change, there remains some skepticism about his willingness to make good on his campaign promises to achieve more modest reforms he has endorsed, such as decriminalizing possession and expunging records.

A transition document the incoming Biden-Harris administration released this month left out mention of those cannabis pledges.

That said, the president-elect has conceded that his work on punitive anti-drug legislation during his time in Congress was a “mistake.”

For his part, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) told Marijuana Moment in August that “the Biden administration and a Biden Department of Justice would be a constructive player” in advancing legalization.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Research Service released an analysis of the MORE Act last month, finding that the bill’s passage could “reverse” the current cannabis policy gap that exists between states and the federal government.

Numerous Republican members of Congress criticized House Democrats over the planned legalization vote, dismissing the significance of the issue and arguing that it’s an inappropriate time to take it up. They were publicly joined by one House Democrat, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who said this “isn’t the right way” to advance reform and lawmakers should instead be focused on COVID-19 relief.

There were certain centrist Democrats like Lamb who also took issue with advancing the bill when the House first announced plans to hold a vote in the chamber in September. There were concerns about the optics of approving marijuana reform before passing another coronavirus bill, and they convinced leadership to postpone the vote.

That said, several of those same lawmakers ended up losing their seats on the same Election Day as voters in conservative states approved marijuana legalization ballot measures, calling into question their strategic thinking on the politics of cannabis.

United Nations Removes Marijuana From Most Strict Global Drug Category, With U.S. Support

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

The post Watch Live: Key House Committee Prepares Marijuana Legalization Bill For Floor Vote appeared first on Marijuana Moment.



Kyle Jaeger, KahliBuds, 420GrowLife

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