On Friday, the House voted 228-164 to decriminalize marijuana and and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, marking the first time that either chamber of Congress has endorsed the legalization of cannabis.
BREAKING: US House votes 228-164 to pass historic bill that would decriminalize cannabis and clear the way to erase nonviolent federal marijuana convictions; bill moves to US Senate. pic.twitter.com/ZcRgdSN9ez
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 4, 2020
On November 3, 2020, history was made in the American war on drugs. Drugs won. Oregon moved to decriminalize all drugs, even hard ones like meth and heroin as five other states moved to legalize cannabis in some form. And today, Congress passed a historic vote to end federal cannabis prohibition once and for all.
Voting to overturn the tyranny of the drug war cannot happen fast enough and it looks like Americans — both on the blue team and the red — are finally beginning to grasp this. According to a recent Gallop poll, 68 percent of the country favors legal access to cannabis — not just medicinal either.
Sadly, however, although the Joe Biden claimed he will “pursue modest marijuana reform” after he gets in the White House, these claims ring entirely hollow given his lust for locking brown and black people in cages in his past four decades in Washington. The prohibition of cannabis is a major tool used by the police state to go after communities of color and the poor and those who profit from preying on these groups will not give up that power easily which is why Biden has refused to even consider legalization.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, was supposed to go up for a vote in September but was shelved by Democrats who were worried about how it would look to pass a legalization bill without passing another coronavirus relief package. Well, since that relief package never came, the vote for the MORE act took place, and passed today.
The MORE Act removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). But that is not all. It goes one step further and seek to undo the horrific damage caused by the state’s war on this plant by expunging the records of those persecuted by cannabis prohibition.
Federally descheduling cannabis would have a massive effect on bringing cannabis prohibition to its knees. It will also bring in revenue to cash strapped states who are going in debt amid COVID-19 lockdowns.
According to the legislation, the act will:
provide for expungement and resentencing of prior convictions and prevent federal agencies from using cannabis as a reason to deny access to benefits or citizenship status for immigrants.
It would also impose a five percent federal tax on the sales of marijuana products. Some of that revenue would be directed toward a new Opportunity Trust Fund aimed at supporting grant programs to provide job training and legal aid for people impacted by prohibition enforcement, loans for small marijuana businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals and efforts to minimize barriers to licensing and employment in the legal industry. Some of these efforts would be run through a new Cannabis Justice Office in the Department of Justice.
Even though the bill has bipartisan support in the House and passed by a large margin, drug war addicted dinosaurs in the Senate will likely hold it up. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made his reefer madness stance clear and he will likely convince many other tyrants in the Senate to oppose its passage.
Nevertheless, the symbolic nature of a bill passing the House to legalize cannabis on a national level cannot be understated. It is also important to point out that this legislation was presented last year and approved by a majority in the House Judiciary Committee. However, a vote by Congress has been delayed multiple times.
In August, however, the organization formerly known as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), now known as Law Enforcement Action Partnership, along with the National Black Police Association, and Fair and Just Prosecution signed onto a revolutionary letter to Congress urging the federal government to legalize marijuana and expunge all past convictions relating to marijuana. This provided the impetus for the vote today.
Those who continue denying the evidence, while continuing to lock people in cages for a plant, will ultimately be judged by history. They will not be the heroes they claim to be now. They will be remembered as the ones responsible for mass incarceration, fostering the police state, and dealing a near-death blow to freedom.
The time for change is now.