Congress to vote on federal decriminalization of marijuana in December – here’s what happens next

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WASHINGTON, DC – Perhaps controversial to some, and long overdue to others, the U.S. House of Representatives is said to be slated to vote on legislation for the decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level in December of 2020. 

The act itself is coined as the “Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019”, or simply referred to as the MORE Act of 2019. 

Sponsors of said bill happen to be none other than Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Jerry Nadler.

Senator Harris sponsoring a bill decriminalizing marijuana federally while having oversaw nearly 2,000 convictions as a D.A. in California over marijuana offenses is rather ironic, to be frank. 

On November 9th, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a statement on the progress of House bills when detailing the floor schedule for November/December.

Thus, leaving room for speculation that said MORE Act of 2019 will be on the floor for a vote around said timeframe.

In the most basic sense, this legislation would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, federal penalties related to manufacturing, distribution and possession would no longer exist. 

However, that does not mean marijuana will be legal in every state. That notion cannot be stressed enough. A state or locality can still opt to criminalize marijuana (much like how certain localities ban the sales and even the possession and consumption of alcohol). 

Now, on top of federal penalties no longer being administered for marijuana if the bill comes to fruition, a 5% tax on cannabis products would be levied in order to be directed towards a fund that would support communities impacted by the “war on drugs”. 

Also, when examining the bill from a criminal justice perspective, any prior convictions on the federal level related to marijuana would be expunged. 

This bill happens to have garnered support across both aisles of the House, having secured 118 co-sponsors between Democrats and Republicans alike. 

Which, the seemingly bi-partisan support is hardly shocking. 

The writing has been on the proverbial wall for well over two decades now, in that it was only a matter of “when” rather than “if” regarding federal decriminalization of marijuana being entertained. 

California was one of the first states to entertain medicinal uses of marijuana, with the passing of Prop 215 back in 1996 that legalized cannabis as a prescription medicine. 

Moving on to 1998, Oregon and Alaska did the same as California did two years earlier. 

Medical cannabis was sweeping through numerous states all throughout the 2000s from then on – including Arizona, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware and many others. 

Once 2012 hits, we then began to see states either decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses to flat-out passing laws that effectively approved the recreational use of it by adults. 

Which, when these laws began cropping up, saw marijuana getting treated on the state-level in a fashion quite similar to how alcoholic beverages are regulated. 

In 2020 alone, four more states approved ballot measures that legalized recreational use of marijuana, which were Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota. 

As mentioned before, decriminalization of marijuana on the federal level was something that was going to be entertained eventually

Now, of course there may be some among the extremely staunch conservative side of the fence that may think that marijuana decriminalization is a terrible idea. 

Maybe they’re among the crowd that thinks it’s dangerous or unsafe, or perhaps just shudders at thinking of something once known as a drug will now no longer be considered as such. 

If we’re being honest, marijuana is pretty safe when consumed responsibly – much like alcohol. Of course, marijuana can impair someone from being able to operate a motor vehicle – but so can cough medicine. 

No, some might try to say that people cannot overdose on marijuana. That’s not exactly true, as a 2014 study showed that 18 people died that year from a cannabis overdose

However, acetaminophen (a.k.a., Tylenol’s active ingredient) kills anywhere between 150-500 annually from overdoses. When it comes to alcohol, roughly 6 people die every day in the U.S. from alcohol poisoning

More people are killed annually over nut allergies (about 150) and strikes of lightning (give or take 100) than reefer. Yet we miraculously haven’t outlawed Planters Peanuts going outside during thunderstorms. 

So, for any folks worried about the sticky cabbage possibly getting decriminalized on the federal level, it’s really nothing much to extol concern over. 

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In a recent op-ed from Law Enforcement Today, I had poked a little fun at the recent passing of marijuana in Arizona for recreationally purposes. 

Namely because, if Biden becomes president, folks are going to need all the extra help they can muster up for the next four years. 

Here’s that previous editorial. 

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This editorial is brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

ARIZONA – While the votes in Arizona have yet to be fully tallied, it appears that Proposition 207 has already attained enough votes to pass. The proposition will allow recreational use of marijuana by residents over 21 years old.

For those unfamiliar with what Prop 207, the referendum allows adults aged 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational purposes. Of course, there are other formalities such as having to purchase it from authorized retail outlets.

And while not everyone is a fan of the devil’s lettuce, the 17-page piece of legislation has managed to instill regulations on recreational marijuana similar to that of alcohol.  

These regulations include driving while impaired being a big no-no, using marijuana in public places is prohibited (parks, sidewalks, restaurants etc.), and yes, employers can still maintain a drug-free workplace and fire you if you’re high at work.  

Basically, common sense regulation for an adult-oriented intoxicant.

Now, keep in mind – this doesn’t mean someone can go buy some sticky cabbage recreationally immediately. Stacy Pearson from Smart and Safe Arizona noted that eager folks in Arizona still have to wait for the election “to be certified in early December.”

And even after the election certification, only licensed outlets can actually sell recreational marijuana. Retailers can start submitting applications to become licensed sellers on January 19th, with the application approval process taking up to 60 days reportedly.

So, Arizonans should bank on recreational marijuana being available to purchase legally around March of 2021.

And to be candid, if Joe Biden lands this election, then many Arizonans are going to need that little bit of extra respite (myself included). Because under a Biden presidency, it feels like a stiff drink just wouldn’t cut it anymore.

I mean, Biden has talked about affording amnesty for roughly 11 million illegal immigrants within his first 100 days in office.

As if that weren’t ridiculous enough, Biden’s immigration plan also touts no longer prosecuting people for illegally entering the country if they’re claiming to seek asylum.  

Oh man, and then there’s the claim Biden has made numerous times along the campaign trail about halting deportations for his first 100 days in office as well.

And not to mention the fracking debacle that pertains to both Biden and Kamala Harris.

While the Biden camp has come to the defense recently alleging that they’re not waging a war on fracking, Biden’s running mate seems to have a history of trying to end the practice.

Not to mention, we’re literally talking about a man who has given President Trump grief over allegations of perceived racism – while also having been the same candidate who delivered a eulogy for a former KKK member.

I mean, Biden is the only candidate during the election season to have been endorsed by a Mexican government official who was alleged to have actual cartel ties.

Oh, and don’t forget the possibility of some tax cuts us Americans got to enjoy when President Trump was elected going away under the Biden administration.

Then you’ve got Joe Biden referring to his son Hunter as the “smartest guy I know” – I mean, Hunter Biden can’t even keep track of his laptops, but that’s the smartest guy Joe Biden knows.

Folks, if Joe Biden manages to land this election, we’ll officially be living in clown world. And when you’re living in clown world, you can either do your best to enjoy the circus or be miserable.

At least in Arizona, we’ll have a little something extra to get us by for whatever may come in the event we’re hit with a Biden administration.

And hey, the tax revenues generated from recreational marijuana sales in Arizona will help fund highways and police & fire departments.

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