Senate Could Vote on Federal Marijuana Legalization Soon — Here's How
The U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote on a bill advancing the federal legalization of marijuana very soon. The House will vote on the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement) Act as soon as next week. When will the Senate vote on federal marijuana legalization?
If the House passes the MORE Act, the next step would be to move the bill to the Senate. The House already passed this bill to remove cannabis from its list of federally controlled substances back in 2020, but the Senate didn't move on the bill within that legislative cycle. The bill restarted with the current Congress.
What is in the MORE Act?
The MORE Act focuses on social justice aspects of legalizing marijuana, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) states. The act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and provide “essential restorative justice provisions to begin to undo decades of harm caused by prohibition.”
The key points in the bill include:
- Automatic expungement of cannabis arrests, charges, and convictions
5 percent tax on retail sales of cannabis would go to the Opportunity Trust Fund
Creation of an Office of Cannabis Justice
Government prohibition of discrimination on basis of cannabis use
The MORE Act will reach the House floor for an official vote next week, and after that it could head to the Senate.
However, the Senate is also working concurrently on a different piece of legislation, the COAA (Cannabis Opportunity and Administration Act). Senator Chuck Schumer is expected to introduce that bill in the coming weeks.
If both the COAA and the MORE Act pass, the House and the Senate would then need to reconcile the two legalization bills into one bill to send on for President Biden’s approval.
Marijuana stocks are up as legalization is considered.
The prices of marijuana companies shot up in the stock market on March 24, likely due to the buzz around a potential vote for legalization. This would only be the second time in history that a federal marijuana legalization bill would reach the House floor for voting.
On March 24, cannabis stocks rose, including the share prices of Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth (both up about 11 percent) and Tilray (up 22 percent). Cronos also popped by 9 percent. Investors are likely betting on the stocks due to the fact that the MORE Act has already passed the House once before with bipartisan support.
The Senate just passed a marijuana research bill.
This week, the Senate also passed a bill to promote research into the medical benefits of marijuana. Marijuana Moment reported that the Senate unanimously voted "yes" on the Cannabidiol and Marijuana Research Expansion Act.
Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Brian Schatz, and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley sponsored the bill. This bill simplifies and streamlines the process of beginning research and encourages the FDA to work on developing more cannabis-related medicines.
The guidelines for physicians and the Department of Health and Human Services will be clarified through this bill.
Senator Feinstein said when the bill was introduced last year, “Our bill will remove excessive barriers that make it difficult for researchers to study the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, and hopefully, give patients more treatment options.”