Congress will not vote on cannabis legalization until after election

Published Oct 1, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
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There will be a delay in the MORE Act vote aimed at the legalization of cannabis and the removal of federal penalties for cannabis crimes while erasing some criminal records. Included in the new legislation will be the creation of programs for people affected by the War on Drugs. It’s an exciting time, but unfortunately, House Democrats will not be holding a vote on the MORE Act until after the US presidential election.

Some people believe that this time could be better spent on the voting of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initializing of the MORE Act would see the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act and allow all states to decide if they want to legalize the drug. The MORE Act bill was supposed to come to vote the week of Sept 21. However, House leaders have chosen to put coronavirus deals forward to be addressed before the election.

A convincing suggestion

A Democratic aid suggested that the House first pass COVID-19 relief before moving forward on cannabis legalization. The group convinced party leaders of moderate Democrats that they needed to focus on more pertinent legislation rather than the legalization of pot. The risks that this position posed at the ballot boxes won over party leaders, postponing the long-awaited vote on legalization.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer D Md. gave a statement indicating that the House would pass the MORE Act later this autumn, but Hoyer was clear that right now was not the time. The focus today must be on staving the damage to the government from shutdowns. The COVID-19 pandemic must be addressed before we move onto what some deem to be less pressing issues.

The vote for this historic bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. Under this act, cannabis is seen as having no accepted medical use as it can potentially be abused. The historical case would see the full chamber vote on the matter. Advocates and pro-cannabis lawmakers were hoping for a vote on the cannabis bill ahead of the US election, but for now, they will have to wait.

The advocates believe a strong showing is essential as the likelihood that the legislation would pass Senate is slim, to begin with. The bill's passing would likely not be presented this year, and the House will be revisiting the bill before the next Congress. Congress has weeks left in the scheduled sessions to pass the needed COVID-19 legislation to keep the government-funded. October 2 is when the House is expected to stay in session, but Nancy Pelosi has said that it will remain in session until a deal is brokered on the pandemic relief.

Final words

Director of the office of national affairs, Maritza Perez, is dealing with the Drug Policy Alliance, and she has voiced her disappointment in the delay of marijuana legalization. The DPA, who advocates for the decriminalization of drugs, says this that this action is only adding to the injustice of delays for millions of Black, Latino, Indigenous, and low-income individuals, many of whom are disproportionately impacted by what she believes is the countries racist cannabis laws. Time is passing, and in the meantime, those groups mentioned are forced to wait for the "right" time for justice to come their way.

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