WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives will hold a floor vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) during its lame-duck session in December, according to an announcement from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Monday. If enacted, the bill would essentially end U.S. federal prohibition of cannabis and remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act‘s list of harmful narcotics.
In a letter to House members, Hoyer said Congress would “vote on the MORE Act to decriminalize cannabis and expunge convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses that have prevented many Americans from getting jobs, applying for credit and loans, and accessing opportunities that make it possible to get ahead in our economy.”
Previously scheduled for a vote in September, Democrats opted to postpone until after the election. Some moderate Democratic members running for re-election in 2020 voiced concerns that the cannabis-related bill might hurt their chances with moderate constituents who may not support U.S. cannabis legalization.
While serving as senator, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sponsored the MORE Act and introduced the legislation to the House. During the 2020 presidential race, she commented at an ABC News town hall:
“Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge all marijuana-use convictions and end incarceration for drug use alone. This is no time for half-steppin’. This is no time for incrementalism. We need to deal with the system and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system.”
While Donald Trump continues to contest election results regarding his loss of the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden, there was no doubt that cannabis was a big winner in state elections. Five more state voted to legalize cannabis, including Arizona, New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota, and Mississippi.
The stock market reacted enthusiastically Monday to the results of the 2020 election, which was bullish on investors’ hopes for a period of increased economic stability, despite an economy that has been ravaged by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Large Canadian cannabis brands on Monday also reported higher than expected earnings and less debt. Multinational cannabis companies Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis saw a 10-percent and 20-percent rise in stock price, respectively.
Canadian-based Tilray ‘s stock price was up 10 percent Monday, and other publicly traded cannabis companies also saw spikes, including Curaleaf, Aphria, and Cronos.
Financial analysts credited widening public acceptance of adult-use cannabis, increase in usage during pandemic lockdowns in the United States, and what is likely to be a cannabis-friendly administration going forward with Biden and Harris.
When the MORE Act is voted on next month, it will be the first time since 1970 (when cannabis first was designated as a narcotic) that Congress has voted on whether to de-schedule a controlled substance.