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Federal Pot Legalization Faces GOP Resistance, Won't Pass Soon

A vast majority of House Republicans are expected to vote against a bill ending the federal prohibition on marijuana on Friday, the Hill reports. Last time the bill came to a vote in the House, in 2020, only five Republicans voted in favor of it. Now, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have opposed the bill, citing concerns that it would lead to an uptick in use of the drug. The bill Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would remove marijuana from the list of federally banned substances, expunge certain offenses associated with marijuana, impose a five percent federal tax on marijuana that would eventually increase to eight percent, and funnel funds to communities affected by the war on drugs. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate, where 10 Republican votes are needed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is working on crafting alternative marijuana legislation.

Some House Republicans, including Nancy Mace (R-SC), were rankled that Democrats did not allow votes on their proposed amendments. Last year, Mace introduced an alternative bill to end the federal marijuana prohibition called the States Reform Act, which would have compelled states to impose a 21-year-old age limit to purchase the drug and capped the proposed federal tax at three percent. One of Mace's concerns is that the eight percent tax proposed by Democrats would only fuel black markets. As Mace makes these arguments, she must deal with resistance from members of her party who are resistant to any recreational legalization even as 60 percent of U.S. residents and 47 percent of Republicans say they support full legalization. Mace said, “This genie’s not going back in the bottle. So we might as well put in incentives and provisions that one, protect kids, which is what my bill does ... and protect the rights of states to implement cannabis reforms as they see fit.” Other Republicans introduced innocuous amendments to the MORE Act, such as mandating warning labels about the harmful effects of marijuana for pregnant women and prohibiting fruity flavorings of marijuana products.


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