Legal Review: Will Federal Marijuana Law Get Past the House?

By Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Wilson of Matthew Wilson Attorney at Law

It was in November of 2019 that the federal government moved closer to passing marijuana legislation.

The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. This means that if someone was caught committing what is a marijuana offense today, instead of facing high fines and lengthy jail sentences, they would only receive a ticket, similarly to those handed out for traffic infractions. However, it is unclear if the bill is likely to get much further.

The bill that was passed is known as the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019”. In its short form, the bill is known as simply the “MORE Act”. If passed, the law would remove cannabis from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act. This schedule also lists drugs such as LSD and heroin. The bill would also impose a five percent sales tax on cannabis sales through the Cannabis Justice Office, an office that would be created for that very task.

However, many people are predicting that the bill will not get much further than the House, and there is a good reason why. The bill must be passed by the entire House, and then the Senate. Of these two moves, gaining approval in the Senate would likely be the most difficult. The Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and the party has never favored any type of marijuana legalization or decriminalization before.

Even if it does pass through the Senate, it will then go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Trump has always been extremely vocal about his criticism towards marijuana and has even paid for ads displaying the harmful effects of the substance.

Those that are hoping for marijuana legalization may have to wait to see what happens with the 2020 election. Many of the candidates support decriminalizing the drug, if not fully legalizing it.

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