The House of Representatives will pass a bill legalizing marijuana at the federal level, predicts the chair of the committee that would have to approve the bill before it goes to the House floor for a full vote. However, the Senate will likely drag its feet in passing the bill, if it passes it at all, Jerry Nadler claims.
As Market Watch reports, Nadler, a New York Democrat, is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which will vote on the MORE Act Wednesday. Nadler expects his committee will approve the bill, likely with some Republican support. The bill could pass the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. Yet, once it reaches the Senate, Nadler predicts that, at the very least, the legislative body will move slowly on it and may not pass it at all.
The MORE Act of 2019, sponsored by California Democrat Kamala Harris, would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Further, it would expunge prior marijuana convictions, provide re-sentencing hearings for people charged with marijuana offenses but not yet sentenced at the time of the bill’s passage, and impose a national 5 percent sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products. That money would go to fund grant programs, including restitution payments for communities hit hard by the War on Drugs.
Nadler says that, though he expects enthusiasm for passing the bill within the House, he’s not so sure of its future in the Senate. He expects that the body will, at a minimum, move slowly on the bill.
“The Senate will take its own time, but then the Senate always does,” he said.
However, Nadler expects that, at the end of the day, the Senate may yet pass the bill.
“The energy and the political pressure from the various states is growing rapidly. The Senate is subject to that, too. We’ll accomplish this,” he said.
One hurdle that would have to be overcome is that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has called himself the “Grim Reaper” when it comes to Democrat-sponsored legislation in the Senate. He would have great power over when, or even if, the bill goes before a committee and/or before the full Senate.
Another hurdle to clear would be getting Donald Trump’s signature on the bill, which would also be far from certain. The Trump administration has continued the Obama-era policy of the federal government not interfering with state’s marijuana programs, even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. What’s more, Trump said in 2018 that he would support the STATES Act, which would have allowed the states to decide their own marijuana policy. That bill has not been voted on by either the House or the Senate, as of this writing.