Two sources with information regarding an announcement that will be made soon said that this week, the Judiciary Committee of Congress is planning on holding a monumental vote that will mark the end of the federal prohibition of cannabis.
The legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) and set aside funds for healing communities that were negatively affected by the war on drugs, especially the people of color, was sponsored by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
The legislation would set aside 5% of federal tax on all marijuana sales, which would be used to pay for programs such as job training and legal services for people who are negatively impacted by the war against drugs. That fund would also be used to provide loans to small marijuana businesses that are controlled by individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Further more, the funds will be used to eliminate the hurdles in licensing and employment in the marijuana sector. Some of the programs would be managed by a new marijuana Justice Office which is a branch of the Department of Justice.
One of the provisions in the legislation states that the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act would provide for marijuana ex-convicts with resentencing and sealing of their records. It would also ensure that immigrants who have a history with marijuana are not denied U.S. citizenship status.
The legislation now has 55 Democratic co-sponsors. The 2020 presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) is leading the Senate companion bill despite it not being slated for consideration in the Republican-controlled chamber.
The Judiciary Committee vote, which is planned to take place this week on Wednesday, comes two months after the House unanimously passed the bipartisan bill to increase bank access by marijuana businesses.
On Saturday, while speaking at a conference in Southern California, Rep, Barbara Lee (D-CA) vaguely revealed the upcoming committee vote. Rep Lee is not a member of the Judiciary Committee. The judiciary spokesperson has not issued a response to the impending vote.
The voting on the bill comes after a hearing that was held in July by a Judiciary subcommittee that reviewed the link between cannabis legalization and racial equality.
The markup will give the lawmakers on both sides a chance to amend the legislation. It could also provide more information on the emerging divide between marijuana reform supporters who are for healing communities impacted by prohibition first and those who believe that legalization legislation should be limited to states as it stands a better chance of being approved in the Senate and landing on President Trump’s desk.
Some groups that are pro-legalization asked for the delay of the scheduled vote on financial services legislation insisting that they should first approve of remedial justice provisions such as the MORE Act. Marijuana advocates believe that in the Republican-controlled Senate, only a more modest bill for federally legalizing marijuana would be approved, such as the STATES (the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States) Act, which was introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Cory Gardner. It earned the support of President Trump. The legislation would not remove weed from CSA, and it does not have provisions for ensuring equity for the impacted communities.
It would be enlightening to hear what cannabis companies like Cannabis Strategic Ventures (OTCQB: NUGS) and Hemptown USA have to say about the best way to get comprehensive marijuana policy reforms through these two politically divergent federal legislative chambers.
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