Earlier this summer, there was some hope that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would move forward with a vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
As reported by Bloom & Oil, that vote — originally scheduled to hit the floor in September — was ultimately scuttled. Explanations for delaying the vote were nebulous, though most attribute mounting pressure from Republicans to contrast Democrats’ actions as focusing on cannabis “instead of” focusing on Covid-19 relief.
For example, a number of Republicans in office took to social media to highlight the fact that the word “cannabis” appears more times than the word “jobs” in the Democrats’ proposed stimulus bill. A faulty argument to be sure, the cannabis industry is in fact being utilized as promising job market while seemingly every other industry continues to issue layoffs and furloughs.
Despite this bad faith effort from the Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently shared his optimism that, should Democrats retake the Senate in next week’s election, the odds of Congress legalizing cannabis at the federal level look promising.
Schumer’s comments were made during a video chat hosted by Green Enterprise last week. As reported by Kyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment, the new interview finds Schumer discussing the MORE Act and its potential for success when the next Congress is seated.
“His cannabis reform bill,” Jaeger elaborated, “…would federally deschedule the plant, reinvest tax revenue into communities most impacted by the drug war and fund efforts to expunge prior marijuana records. He said the state-level legalization movement has demonstrated that the policy works, and it’s a necessary step to promote racial equity.”
Here’s what Schumer said exactly:
“I’m a big fighter for racial justice, and the marijuana laws have been one of the biggest examples of racial injustice, and so to change them makes sense. And that fits in with all of the movement now to bring equality in the policing, in economics and in everything else. Our bill is, in a certain sense, at the nexus of racial justice, individual freedom and states’ rights.”
That bill, the MORE Act, will be looking for a third-act success if it is indeed brought before Congress in 2021. First introduced in 2018, a companion version was refiled with the House the following year.
According to Schumer, however, should he be reinstalled as the majority leader, his plan is to “put this bill in play,” concluding that he thinks “we’ll have a good chance to pass it.”
Schumer also suggested that the fate of numerous individual state cannabis measures on the ballot this election may also play a role in building the momentum the top Democrat believes is necessary to ensure the MORE Act passes.
“It helps push things over,” he explained. “What happens then is the people in those states say, ‘see, this was a good thing.’ All the people who were, you know, wah-wah-wah, something terrible is gonna happen, lose their credibility.”
Naturally, Schumer leveraged his optimism for federal legalization into a call to action for voters, noting that in order for such changes to occur, the Democrats will need more seats in the Senate.
“If I become majority leader,” Schumer said, “I put this on the floor and it’s likely to pass. So, how do I become majority leader? Well, this is a little political you’ll forgive me… but back to the facts, you vote for a Democratic senator in your state, that’s going to make it happen. Vote if you believe in reform here, if you believe in decriminalizing cannabis. The thing to do is vote for your Democratic Senate candidate because they’ll be part of my team to get this done.”
As of Wednesday, October 28, the data experts at FiveThirtyEight gave the Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 55 seats in the Senate following next week’s election. While those numbers may change or, as history has shown us, simply fail to encompass the realities of what voters will do on November 3, there’s enough there to give serious credence to the idea that the United States may legalize cannabis in 2021.
Of course, we’ve heard such promises before.
That’s why, as Schumer noted, it isn’t simply putting Democrats in power that will move the needle. It will also be the will of the people when it comes to cannabis issues being decided across the country. Given there are 38 measures in California alone, those eager to ascertain the likelihood of whether weed may be about to go legit in the U.S. would be well served to watch the local votes along with the major ones.
Here we go.