Last week’s vote in the House of Representatives to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level was well received by the industry as a wonderful, historic day for cannabis. However, the passage of the bill was a symbolic gesture and will now die a quick death in the Senate.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, better known as the MORE Act, largely passed along party lines with a vote of 228-164. It moves onto the Republican-controlled Senate where it is not expected to be brought for a vote.
Many believe the vote came about in the House to demonstrate that lawmakers have heard the will of the people and wanted to acknowledge the industry’s most recent wins on Election Day that brought four more states into the cannabis fold. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said multiple times that there are bigger issues for them to focus on than the legalization of cannabis.
So… what comes next? We all get to do this dance again in the next Congress.
It is expected that Democrats will bring a similar measure forward in the House in the next Congress and the future of that bill will hang on who controls the Senate next year. On January 5, Georgia will hold its runoff election for its two Senate seats and if the Republicans lose control of the Senate then there is hope for a resurrection of the MORE Act.
It will be interesting to see how Congress deals with cannabis in the next session. There are multiple issues that will preoccupy lawmakers long before they get to cannabis – the aftermath of COVID, restarting the economy, and learning the new priorities of the Biden Administration. When they will be able to prioritize cannabis again, is anybody’s guess.
In the meantime, say a few kind words and remember fondly the legislation that paved the way.