Marijuana legalization bill advances to US House for debate, vote

This story has been updated to reflect that the MORE Act is expected to be acted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday.

The comprehensive marijuana legalization bill known as the MORE Act is expected to be debated and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Friday.

The pending action comes after the House Rules Committee, as expected, on Wednesday advanced the measure to the full House.

MORE initially was expected to go to the House floor on Thursday, but was pushed to Friday when a procedural motion to the America COMPETES Act was added to Thursday’s calendar.

The previous U.S. House passed the social justice-focused Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act by a margin of 228-164 in December 2020.

But the Senate didn’t act, so the measure had to start over after the new Congress was seated in January 2021. The Senate is expected again to be a major hurdle.

David Mangone, director of policy at the Washington, DC-based The Liaison Group, which lobbies on behalf of the National Cannabis Roundtable, said he would expect the bill to pass in the House by a similar margin as last time, even though some members have changed.

“But it’s a little bit different than last time, when it was a lame duck (post-election) Congress with no electoral consequences,” he said.

“This one is happening at the start of the primary season,” Mangone noted, meaning lawmakers will be putting their votes on record, which could help win over voters and also provide fodder for attack by opponents.

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The vote on MORE also is “another push that the House has done its work,” Mangone said, and comes as everyone waits for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to introduce his much-touted, comprehensive marijuana reform bill.