Congress Has Delayed Vote to Federally Legalize Weed Until After the Election
After big talk and hot hype, the House Democrats announced the MORE Act will be tabled until after November 3, ostensibly to better focus on new pandemic relief measures.
Published on September 18, 2020

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If you've smoked weed for a long time, then, realistically, you’ve likely also been burned and ripped-off by a weed deal that’s proved the age old maxim: If something seems too good to be true, it is. 

The latest harsh lesson in “Don’t believe it ’til you smoke it” came yesterday when the House of Representatives announced it will not vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act on September 21 as was scheduled.

After posting the MORE-free House floor schedule for next week, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (sort of) promised that Democratic lawmakers would fight to pass the bill before 2021. First, Hoyer said, the House needed to focus on avoiding a government shutdown and securing another round of coronavirus relief action.

“The MORE Act remains a critical component of House Democrats’ plan for addressing systemic racism and advancing criminal justice reform,” Hoyer said, “and we are committed to bringing it to the Floor for a vote before the end of the year. Right now, the House is focused relentlessly on securing agreement to stave off a damaging government shutdown and continuing to do its job addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Later this autumn, the House will pass the MORE Act with strong support as yet another crucial step toward making our justice system fair for all Americans.”

The elephant in the room is the November election, with the Democrats now favored to win the Senate and, of course, the White House up for grabs (please vote against Trump as early as you can).  

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the bill’s sponsor, indicated that the elections did likely figure into the push. “It might get postponed to the lame-duck [session],” Nadler said, referring to the period between election day and the swearing-in of new Congress members and — please, please, please — a new President.

Rep. Barbara Lee, who co-chairs the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said on Wednesday she’d be okay with postponing the vote if it meant persuading more lawmakers to approve the bill. Lee also told Marijuana Moment that she and other House members would be “doing everything we can over the next week to build broad coalitions of support to ensure that happens sooner rather than later.”

Following the delay confirmation, Lee and cannabis advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer released the following joint statement: “As Americans confront hundreds of years of systemic racial injustice, ending the failed war on drugs that has disproportionately hurt Black and Brown Americans must be front and center. As co-chairs of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, our goal has always been a vote on federal marijuana legalization and restorative justice this Congress. Thankfully, the leadership has now given an ironclad commitment that the House will consider the bill this fall. The public deserves this vote and we will continue to build support to meet our objective of passing the MORE Act in the House and sending it to the Senate, which is one step closer to enacting it into law.”

Not everyone is buying the rationale, though, beginning with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “I feel like the impulse to delay the expungement of people's records is a fear-based response to Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party,” the New York representative said. “And I personally don't think that we should be governing that way. I don't think that when Democrats have power, like a House majority, that we should be drafting our agenda based out of fear of Republicans.”

AOC further questioned the wisdom of the delay by saying, “We already had a COVID vote. If the argument is that we should not be voting on legislation because we haven't voted on COVID yet, then why are we voting on anything? Why is it that the one racial justice bill is the one that's being singled out?”

And, so now we wait until the House of Reps are prepared to vote. Stay tuned!

Mike McPadden
Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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