House Judiciary Passes Bill to End Cannabis Prohibition in Historic Vote

While not voting in favor of final passage of the bill, many Republicans supported an amendment similar to the STATES Act, which would exempt state-legal cannabis activity from the federal Controlled Substances Act

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on Wednesday, marking the first-ever vote in Congress to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level. The bill passed out of committee by a margin of 24-10, with Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) joining 22 Democrats.

Logo: Cannabis Trade Foundation

The MORE Act (H.R.3884), introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), would, among other purposes, remove cannabis from the federal drug schedules of the Controlled Substances Act, provide for expungement of federal cannabis convictions, and establish a 5% excise tax on cannabis to fund various grant programs. The bill can be brought to the House floor for a vote once it has been waived or considered by each of the seven additional committees to which it has been referred. A companion bill in the Senate (S.2227) was introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).“This committee vote is a historic step forward for cannabis policy reform at the federal level,” said Cannabis Trade Federation CEO Neal Levine. “The MORE Act would ensure cannabis consumers and businesses are treated fairly under the law. It would also bolster state and industry efforts to promote diversity within the cannabis business community, while helping communities and individuals adversely impacted by the war on drugs. A solid majority of Americans support ending cannabis prohibition, and we’re finally seeing that reflected in a vote on Capitol Hill.”Prior to the bill’s passage, the committee considered an amendment introduced by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), which would have replaced the portion of the MORE Act that removes cannabis from the CSA entirely with provisions similar to the language of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act (H.R.2093), a separate piece of legislation backed by a bipartisan coalition of 63 cosponsors, including 19 Republicans. The amendment would have exempted all state-legal cannabis activity from the provisions of the CSA. Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) spoke passionately in favor of the amendment and called on the committee to act in a bipartisan manner to push consensus legislation through Congress. The amendment was defeated by voice vote, with most Republicans appearing to vote in favor of the amendment.“These votes demonstrate the broad bipartisan support that exists in Congress for allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies,” Levine said. “There appears to be a consensus among both parties that the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws is untenable and needs to be resolved. We encourage our allies in the Democratic and Republican parties come together to find a bipartisan path forward and pass a law this Congress.”

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The Cannabis Trade Federation is a national coalition of cannabis-related businesses dedicated to professionalizing, diversifying, and unifying the cannabis business community. CTF represents all aspects of the cannabis industry, and it is committed to promoting social responsibility, providing evidence-based education, and advancing sensible cannabis policy. For more information, visit