Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure that would legalize cannabis across the country as well as eliminate criminal penalties for any individual who possessed, distributed or manufactured the substance. Legislators passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act in a 220 to 204 vote. The same act was approved in the House in 2021 but failed to advance in the Senate.
This measure, which was sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, will deschedule marijuana from the government’s Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act. It will also set up procedures for the expungement of prior convictions from individuals’ records and levy a tax on the sale of marijuana products. This tax will start at 5%, before eventually increasing to 8%.
Funds raised through the imposed tax will be directed to a fund set up to provide youth recreation programs, re-entry services, legal aid, substance-use treatment programs, mentoring programs and job training programs. It will also offer loans to small businesses involved in the marijuana industry. Qualifying companies must be controlled and owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.
In her remarks last week about the legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that the landmark bill was one of the most important criminal justice reform measures in recent history. Pelosi stated that the measure would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, provide opportunities for individuals to participate in the cannabis industry and deliver justice for individuals harmed by the unfair and brutal consequences of the criminalization of marijuana, so that the grave mistakes of the past wouldn’t be repeated.
The House Speaker also called attention to the changes made at the state level over the past few decades, noting that it was time for the federal government to jump on the bandwagon. Thus far, Washington, DC, and 18 other states in the country have legalized cannabis for recreational use, with DC and another 37 states also enacting laws to legalize medical cannabis. California was the first state in the country to legalize medical cannabis in 1996.
Meanwhile, Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden are working with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to draft a similar legalization measure in their chamber. However, prospects for approving such a measure in the Senate appear to be slim given that Democrats would need every member as well as 10 Republicans to overcome the 60-vote obstacle that is required for the measure to advance to a final vote.
Should marijuana prohibition be ended at the federal level, entities such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX) will grow a lot faster because of the wider market that will be opened.
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