US House passes bill aimed at decriminalizing cannabis, clearing nonviolent federal convictions

MORE Act now moves to Senate

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019 file photo, marijuana grows at an indoor cannabis farm in Gardena, Calif. On Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, cannabis stocks are flying high this month after voters in four states passed measures clearing the way for sales of marijuana to adults. That alone is projected to boost the market for legal cannabis sales in the U.S. by 20%. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) (Richard Vogel, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The U.S House voted Friday to pass a bill that would decriminalize cannabis and clear the way to erasing nonviolent federal marijuana convictions.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, is aimed at decriminalizing cannabis (marijuana) and making it possible to erase nonviolent federal marijuana convictions.

The House voted 228-164 in favor of the MORE Act on Friday. It will now go before the Senate. The bill also aims to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Related: UN agency removes cannabis from strictest drug category

This comes after more states voted to legalize recreational marijuana this past month.

NBC News reports the MORE Act would also create pathways for ownership opportunities in the emerging industry, allow veterans to obtain medical cannabis recommendations from Veteran Affairs doctors and establish funding sources to reinvest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Friday’s vote would mark the first time a full chamber of Congress has taken up the issue of federally decriminalizing cannabis, NBC reports.

“It is the right thing to do,” said a co-sponsor of the MORE Act, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, to NBC. “For too long, the war on drugs has targeted young people, especially Black people, and rejected the advice of experts.”

Cannabis in Michigan

In Michigan, recreational marijuana became legal in 2018 after voters approved a proposal in the November election. At the time, Michigan was the first state in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana. Steps to establish and grow the cannabis market in Michigan have been underway the past two years now with municipalities taking difference approaches.

In Detroit, city leaders this fall approved an adult-use recreational marijuana ordinance that allows adult-use marijuana licensing in the city, two years since it was legalized at the state level. The city actually decriminalized cannabis possession and use in 2012. Ann Arbor took similar steps way back in 1972.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008.