Federal Marijuana Reform Is Going to Vote This Week

This week, the US House of Representatives is going to vote on a bill decriminalising marijuana on a federal level. With 68% of the country supporting it, Democratic leadership has no excuse not to get this through. 

Congress is expected to vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act this week. This bill will remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances, federal decriminalising it across the country. 

But that's not all. It will expunge some criminal records associated with cannabis-based violations, allow more extensive testing and research into the drug and give veterans medicinal marijuana recommendations from the VA.

It will also remove the threat of deportation for immigrants charged with minor marijuana infractions and those who are employed in the industry. More than that, it would fund communities harmed by the War on Drugs

This floor vote represents the first congressional roll call ever on the question of ending federal marijuana criminalization. By advancing the MORE Act, the House of Representatives sends an unmistakable signal that America is ready to close the book [on] marijuana prohibition and end the senseless oppression and fear that this failed policy wreaks on otherwise law-abiding citizens."Justin Strekal, Political Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)

Most conservative outlets would respond to this bill with accusations of being 'fringe' and 'against the values of mainstream America'. Well unfortunately for them, the facts tell a different story. The latest Gallup poll conducted in October revealed that 68% of the country is in favour of marijuana legalisation. 

We're going to repeat that for effect. 68% of a country, that's divided on so many issues, is united on this one. More specifically; 83% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 48% of Republicans support it.

It has the backing of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and President-elect Joe Biden has indicated that he supports cannabis decriminalization but has come short of calling for legalization.

This bill should be a done deal in any democratic society. It has the momentum of overwhelming popular support and the blessing of the recently elected administration along with its mandate. 

House Democrats like to boast about their superior legislative skills. They typically talk down to progressive firebrands like AOC, claiming they, with their experience, are the only adults in the room. They proudly champion their ability to cross the ideological isle to enact real policy reform and 'get things done'. 

Now is the time to prove it. If a politician cannot enact reform with 68% bipartisan support from the public they claim to represent; then they should pursue a different career path to put it kindly. Now, most cynics would simply give up preemptively, claiming that fighting for the bill is pointless because the GOP-controlled Senate would never let it pass. 

True, they will oppose it. That's why your job is fight and beat them. The point of opposing parties in a democracy isn't to give up at the first sign of resistance, it's to push in order to enact the interests of those you represent. And if you have, again, 68% of the country on your side, you have everything you need to fight this battle.

I've been working on this issue longer than any politician in America and can confidently say that the MORE Act is the most comprehensive federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history. Our vote to pass it next week will come after people in five very different states reaffirmed the strong bipartisan support to reform the failed cannabis prohibition. National support for federal cannabis legalization is at an all-time high….Congress must capitalize on this momentum and do our part to end the failed policy of prohibition."Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D, Oregon), Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus

What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to do, is call Representative Blumenauer into her office and say the following. "Earl, buddy, how you doing? This vote coming up? As leader of our party in the House, I command you to get it through. I'm too busy dealing with COVID at the moment, so this is your issue. We have 68% support nationwide and this bill will improve the lives of millions of Americans. I want you to be relentless for them, I want you to fight for them. You will go on the house floor, speak on every news program and will shame every Republican for daring to oppose this bill. You're the co-chair of the CCC and this is the endgame this issue has been waiting for. Make it happen." 

Now, if Speaker Pelosi took that approach and actually fought for this bill, even if it didn't ultimately get through, the Senate Republicans would take a serious wound to the reputation for opposing it. Then, going into the Biden Administration, the new president would have the mandate and political clout to get this bill passed once and for all.

Even if the GOP holds out; by the midterms no voter is going to want to let them back into the Senate. To all our US-based readers, understand that this is a massive step in what we've been fighting for. This is where the fight matters.

We should all pay close attention to which politicians stand up to fight and which ones preemptively surrender, claiming it was always hopeless. It's not at all hopeless, 68% approval is the furthest possible thing from hopeless. We look forward to seeing if House Democrats realise that in the coming days. 

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Cameron Kinsella
Cameron Kinsella

Cameron is an Australian writer, film geek, and political science graduate from the University of Sydney who is passionate about the culture that has arisen surrounding cannabis. Cameron hopes to one day bring that culture to Australia through educating audiences