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House Passes Second Weed Bill, Enactment Unlikely

For the second time in two years, a wide-reaching bill to legalize marijuana under federal law passed the house on Friday, with a 220-204 vote mostly along party lines, Politico reports. With Republican opposition, no real path to President Biden's desk and varying attitudes on some aspects of the bill, the bill's future looks uncertain. Many pro-weed Republicans voted no on the bill, called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, showing a fundamental divide between how the parties approach the issue. While two-thirds of Republican voters support the bill, only three Republican lawmakers voted for the bill. Some Republicans expressed frustration at a social programs section of the bill that allocates funds towards communities most affected by the war on drugs. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said, “You’re not going to be able to get Republicans on board… the way that the MORE Act is done.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said the measure would close a gap between white and Black Americans, who are four times as likely to be arrested for low level cannabis crimes. Other Democrats are willing to give up the aspects of the bill that reinvest in order to gain support from Republicans. For many, like Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the provisions for reinvestment are non-negotiable. Meanwhile, Democratic support for MORE has increased. While six voted against the bill in 2020, only two voted against it on Friday .“I think it’s clear that Democrats understand that this is something that actually helps them politically,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the unofficial cannabis dean on Capitol Hill. “And opposition hurts them politically, at least in Democratic primaries and with Republican swing voters.”


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