A house vote on last year’s MORE Act is all anyone can talk about the last few days. Underneath the announcement though, is a political blame game that may come to a head before the November election.
The Substance Regulation and Safety Act rehashed the idea of cannabis legislation last month. After the vice-presidential nominee announcement of Democrat Senator, Kamala Harris, however, interest in the shelved MORE Act reignited instead. In place of the SRSA Act, the House is aiming to vote on MORE in September when the Congressional break ends. Despite the turn of events, the likelihood of a cannabis bill passing through Congress is slim.
Since the end of late 2019, cannabis has been a hot political topic. Unfortunately, rhetoric and political actions don’t match up on either side.
As far as the current administration is concerned, cannabis just isn’t a priority. Republicans criticize most bills for their equity and social justice mentions. President Trump has voiced support for cannabis bills that allow states to decide how to handle it; but unless promoted, the support seems to end there. This is especially concerning after his recent comments urging Republicans to not place cannabis initiatives on ballots where they are also running for state offices.
“The next time you run please don’t put marijuana on the ballot at the same time you’re running,” Trump said at the rally. “You brought out like a million people that nobody ever knew were coming out.”
Alternatively, Democrats can’t make up their minds on naming cannabis a party-pillar during this year’s elections. Biden has a wishy-washy stance on cannabis that only changed when Harris joined the 2020 Democratic ticket. Harris herself has been called out on her past negative feelings and actions on cannabis and consumers. Revisiting the MORE Act, from some pundits perspective, is her response to both their prosecutorial records.
The MORE Act has been praised as one of the most comprehensive cannabis bills to date. It will remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act while also requiring federal courts to expunge prior cannabis-related convictions. Additionally, it would authorize a 5% tax to provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners and minimize the financial burden of entering the industry. As far as legality, it would leave the decision up the states. Republicans as well as the president have yet to voice support for the bill that fits their prerequisites though.
Regardless of how the house deals with the act, MORE still has to make it through the House and the Senate. The latter has been an Achillis’ heel to the industry. The republican-heavy Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, has turned down almost every piece of cannabis legislation to come forward. Many have argued against the move as legalization and decriminalization will provide jobs and much needed tax revenue while the country desperately needs it.
Despite small steps, Republicans seem opposed to cannabis legalization while Democrats aren’t sure how to navigate the situation. The SAFE Act that assists cannabis business with banking still rests in the Senate after passing through the House last September. In addition the Substance Regulation and Safety Act is also being pushed for a vote in September. Only time will tell if either is introduced on the Senate floor.
If you want to do your part in helping either bill be seen, contact your local representatives and lawmakers. Make sure they know you support these bills and need them to do the same to secure your continued votes. Las Vegas is a perfect example of local politics and constituents playing in part in the process. National decisions can overshadow it but, local politics make a large impact in Congress. Hold your representatives and senators accountability and let them know how you feel today! Check here on how and who to contact.